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Primi

AN ENGLISH MAN, AN ITALIAN ISLAND, THREE RECIPES

My first Aeolian island landfall was under sail in the late 1980’s. That first reveal on a crisp clear day was, as with all new destinations, filled with a childish curiosity. Seven proud volcanoes, one of which – the youngest and noisiest member of the family, Stromboli – rumbled and spewed lava every 15 minutes like some kind of primordial God clock. Thoughts of Ulysees, the clashing rocks, the anticipation of the Sirens song filled my mind and heart with wonder. Such was the imagination that led my first footsteps onto this exotic land.

Back then the islands were a well kept secret; Alicudi was an outpost for hippies and radicals, Panarea, the chic Roman opposite, with one very elegant boho bar on the waterfront. But for me Filicudi had a very different resonance; a rugged oasis, a forgotten place of gentle feminine energy, visited by intrepid yachtsmen and visionary ‘landlubbers’ seeking refuge from a frenetic world. Simply put – Filicudi captured my heart.

In the last 11 years I have become one of those landlubbers, tuned into the profound yet gentle energy of the island. A spiritual home if you like – where my soul can be at peace and I can focus on my first love in life, food!

Keeping it simple with great ingredients is the key to these three pasta recipes. The recipes are intended to guide not instruct as each dish belongs to you and every chef must find their own balanced voice. More garlic or less, more tomatoes or less and level of chili heat are subjective and down to personal yearning.

 

BASE SAUCE FOR ALL THREE DISHES

Slow cooked ripe plum tomatoes, chili and garlic sweated in olive oil is the base of all three recipes.

*Add the garlic late in the process to avoid browning.

Cook and set aside whilst the other key ingredients are prepared for the final combining before service.

 

CASARECCE ALLA NORMA  

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1  Large Aubergine cut into chunks, salted and dried
  • 8 Plum Tomatoes
  • A couple spoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Chili
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 1/2  teaspoon Tomato Puree
  • 230 g hand full of Caserecce pasta

PREPARATION

  1. Cut aubergine into chunky squares and sprinkle with salt in a colander
  2. Leave for an hour to allow the water content to seep out
  3. Dry with a paper towel and toss into hot olive oil to deep fry until fully cooked through
  4. To serve: Heat tomato *“base sauce” and add the al dente cooked pasta and simmer for a few minutes
  5. Season
  6. Fold in the deep fried aubergine and serve
  7. Taking care not to mush the aubergine

 

SQUID PASTA

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • Large Squid cleaned and cut into strips
  • 6 to 8 Plum Tomatoes
  • A couple spoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Chili
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tomato Puree
  • Tablespoon of soaked Capers
  • Lemon zest and sprinkle of parsley upon serving.
  • 230 g Spaghetti Pasta

PREPARATION

*Prepare the base tomato sauce and set aside.

  1. Cut the squid in slices
  2. Fry them in hot olive oil for a few minutes and then combine with the sauce
  3. Add the al dente pasta and pre soaked capers
  4. Simmer and stir to combine flavours for a few minutes
  5. Add a little pasta water if required
  6. Season, sprinkle parsley and a spray of lemon zest
  7. Serve

 

PASTA ALLO SCORFANO

(SCORPION FISH PASTA)

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg whole Scorpion Fish (Scorfano)
  • 1 Cup of steaming water stock (splash of white wine added and reduced is optional)
  • 4 Plum Tomatoes peeled and halved.
  • A couple spoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Chili
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • Tablespoon of soaked Capers
  • Chopped Parsley sprinkle and Lemon zest upon serving.
  • 230 g Linguini

PREPARATION

*Tomato base sweated, not fried or browned in any way. Use less tomatoes for this specific recipe

  1. Steam the scorfano fish until the flesh can be pried from the bone and cut into small bite size pieces. Labour of love. It’s lobster in texture
  2. Reduce the fish steaming water vigorously to create a cup of stock
  3. Add the stock to the base sauce base when its sweated out
  4. After extracting the pasta from the boiling water, keep some pasta water on the side to adjust sauce
  5. Toss the al dente pasta into the sauce while still on fire and heat and stir to allow the pasta to properly absorb the sauce
  6. Season. Add the cut scorfano fish pieces at the last minute
  7. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a spray of lemon zest