Sunday, 19 June 2011

Cosa Nostra Capers

Involtini di Vitello alla Siciliana
Sicilian-Styled Veal Rolls

This is not a traditional Sicilian dish at all... but the combination of ingredients and flavors are very typical for my little Mediterranean island- fresh and vibrant and full of Summer sunshine! Olives, capers and sun-ripened tomatoes go to give this simple dish the spicy taste of the South of Italy... so get ready to take your taste buds on an exciting journey into the sun...

For the rolls, I made a paste out of capers, garlic, lemon zest, basil, a little olive oil and a drop of honey. Chop the basil leaves finely and grind them along with the other ingredients and a pinch of sea salt with your mortar and pestle. Spread the veal slices with the paste, cover with whole basil leaves and roll up tightly. I used a kitchen twine to tie them together and browned them at a moderate heat in a little olive oil. I set these to one side and began making my sauce in the same pan. I started with a traditional "sofritto" of finely chopped onion, celery and carrot. Once this has fried for a few minutes, add a tablespoon of tomato paste and give this a couple of minutes in the pan, stirring constantly. Add a pinch of sugar, a handful of fresh oregano and turn up the heat so that it begins to caramelize- then de glaze the pan with a good dash of red wine. Magnifico!

Now you can add some freshly diced tomatoes. I used cherry tomatoes for mine as they tend to have a more intense flavor. Unless of course, you make this in Sicily, where ALL tomatoes taste wonderful in the summer! Add a good handful of sliced black olives and a handful of finely chopped parsley and grate generously with nutmeg. After a couple of minutes, grate lightly with lemon zest and sprinkle with chili flakes and set to one side... il sugo é finito!

You can now set the rolls into the sauce to bring them up to temperature and soak in the good flavors whilst you prepare the gnocchi, but remember to remove that twine! Keep the temperature low so as to not overcook the tomatoes- it is nice to have a nice, chunky sauce, rather than one that is cooked- down too smoothly when using fresh tomatoes.

The gnocchi are simply boiled in salt water until they float, then drained and dressed with a dusting of grated nutmeg, a drop of olive oil and  a sprinkle of chopped parsley- that really is all that there is to it. I wanted to keep the gnocchi simple to compliment the rich and tangy sauce. So- now it is ready to assemble and serve... and believe me- the next compliment after making a meal like this, is going to be directed at YOU! Enjoy the glory!

Of course I would recommend a nice glass of Corvo to go with this- my favorite Sicilian red and a great accompaniment for these strong, fresh flavors. I do hope you give this a try! I guarantee you will love it!


  1. I really like your "one-pan-approach" as in the pork and mushroom recipe from yesterday. Awesome dish and nice way of cooking - a handful of this and a handful of that. Great :-)

  2. Thanks Alex! I am thrilled that you have been looking at what I do and that you approve! I like to make amazing food but to keep the process simple and I hope that my simple explanations are enough for people to do their own thing. I always like to make use of the foods natural flavors and a good way to do this is to use the same pan... saves on washing-up too! In any case- many thanks for your nice remarks! Best regards from Frankfurt- Francesco

  3. This looks and sounds fantastic! I've not thought of pairing gnocchi with involtini before - I'd normally serve wet polenta, but I will have to give it a try!

  4. I am glad you like it Emma... it was a new idea for me too, but they looked good and really worked well with the spicy sauce! It was definitely a good decision!