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Nova_6388October 25, 2015Sicily on My Table

A few days after returning from Sicily, my suitcase had yet to be taken back to storage and my clothes while laundered were hidden away and awaiting their date with the ironing board. My priorities? Working on my trip photos and preparing a meal inspired by my culinary experiences. First things first.

One of the highlights of our trip was a day spent “Cooking with the Duchess“. In an historical palazzo!

The day started early morning at an outdoor market where we met her favorite vendors and purchased ingredients for our feast.22261913930_11a4bbfa6d_z

Then it was back to the palazzo where we picked herbs in its abundant and lush garden and then up to the kitchen for a little instruction and hands-on cooking of our 4-course meal.


Afterwards, we dined (very well, I might add) in a beautiful dining room.22449563625_e0f6c5edbf_z

Back to reality. 

I decided to incorporate some of the techniques and dishes we made that day — as well as others inspired by our travels. I’ve always favored Sicilian cookery above other regions because of their ‘agro dolce’ technique exemplified by pairing sweet and sour ingredients in a savory dish. Often it’s citrus and a sweet element like currants. I also love that they favor my faves … fish, nuts, herbs, citrus.

Example: For this menu, in the nut category I used pignolis, pistachios and almonds. Herbs included Italian flat leaf parsley, basil, mint and chives, and both the zest and juice of lemons and oranges.

Interestingly, in Sicily, as I found in Tuscany and other regions of Italy that I’ve visited, garlic is not the ‘top dog’ in the kitchen. It’s used very sparingly, if at all. Heavy garlic must be an Italian-American thing.

My Menu

Nova_6390October 25, 2015Sicily on My Table

Antipasto duo of fennel, orange, black olives and pistachios and tomato caprese with beefsteak tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil (olive oil and a drizzle of vinegar on both). Served with parmesan toast.

Nova_6392October 25, 2015Sicily on My Table

Pasta duo: Trapanese Pesto (fresh tomatoes, almonds, basil, olive oil) and a Pistachio-Mint Pesto (mint, pistachio, small piece of garlic, parmesan, olive oil and lemon juice). Served with freshly grated cheese and toasted wheat breadcrumbs. Note: Both sauces are uncooked.

Nova_6394October 25, 2015Sicily on My Table

Hard No, simply impossible to choose which one is more delicious.

Nova_6396October 25, 2015Sicily on My Table

When we were with the Duchess, we made Involtini di Spada (stuffed swordfish).  I followed her delicious stuffing recipe but chose to stuff calamari bodies. Finishing touch for the dish was parsley and orange zest. I also julienned zucchini and tossed it with olive oil that had been pre-seasoned with minced fennel frond, mint, basil and garlic and fresh lemon juice for a fresh side dish.

Nova_6400October 25, 2015Sicily on My Table

Although we made a wonderful dessert called Biancomangiare at the palazzo, it was a group effort and not something I cared to take on solo. I took the easy route (as I always do in the dessert category) and served Sicilian Pistachio Gelato (Talento brand) and we made chocolate shavings for the top from a Modica chocolate with pistachio bar that I brought back from Sicily.

NOTE: I apologize that my food photos here are not as appealing as I would like, but I encourage you to read the descriptions and bring Sicily to your table too. Also, if you’re planning a trip to Palermo, do consider Cooking with the Duchess.



10 Comments, RSS

  • Patricia Durr-Turo

    says on:
    October 26, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Love, love love the ingredients. Pistachio, mint, orange zest and on and on just amazing things!!!

    Glad you had such a great time and I agree with the garlic comment.

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      October 26, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Welcome back to you too! We need to arrange a get-together before the holidays crush us!

  • La Diva Cucina

    says on:
    October 26, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    YUM! All looks divine! I love rigatoni, it’s my fave pasta, hands down. I make the pistachio mint pesto and use it with grilled lamb, love the idea of it with pasta! I can’t wait to see more!

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      October 26, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      Appreciate the visit and comment. Thanks!


    says on:
    October 26, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    I can smell the food just looking at your photos!
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  • Victoria of Flavors of the Sun

    says on:
    October 27, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I could cry with joy looking at these dishes, Joan. I have family in Italy and have traveled there probably twenty times or more, and yet I have never been to Sicily. Like you, I probably prefer Sicilian cooking above any other regional styles. Probably the Arab and Greek influences? I seriously need to think about making a trip there. If only for those pestos…
    Victoria of Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Upside-Down ComfortMy Profile

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      October 27, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Yes, it’s definitely the influence of those other cuisines that make Sicilian dishes special.

  • Norma

    says on:
    October 27, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I am like a little girl in a candy store. Everything looks wonderful and its early in the morning and I am so gungry right now. I just made a fennel and orange salad which is delicious. Cant wait to see you to try one of these dishes or anything else you have up your sleeve or in your oven.

  • Sippitysup

    says on:
    November 6, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I think the photos are gorgeous. But it’s those Sicilian flavors that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about ALL day. GREG

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      November 6, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Thanks Greg. I lost my rss reader and all my blog subscriptions a while back so haven’t been around to my blogging friends much, except when I see a post on FB. I value your comment and appreciate you stopping by. xo

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