Friday, 27 June 2014

Deliciousness in Dialect!

Pasta ca' Muddica a Mudu Miu
Sicilian Pasta with Crispy Bread Crumbs, Anchovies, Fennel, Pine Nuts, Raisins & Salted Ricotta... 
My Way 

Dinner was just like "in the old country" tonight, full of flavor, full of tradition, full of nostalgia... And still with my own signature on it... Oh yes, but of course! I wasn't around in the old days- and this isn't one of the dishes that my mother makes at home... because we probably wouldn't have eaten it when we were children! So I have had to "teach myself" and this is the way I like to make " pasta ca' muddica", or pasta with bread crumbs... I think you might possibly like it too!

All the flavors of Sicily are in this dish, the anchovies, the raisins, the pine nuts, the salted ricotta, fennel greens, tomatoes... You name it! This is the real deal! A little exotic sounding for some people, but a harmonious and wonderful dish to all! try it... You'll like it! 

These were the ingredients for a good portion of spaghetti in this case, although almost any pasta of choice can be used for this. I opted to omit the garlic as I have plans in the morning , but other than that, I needed 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs, around 4-5 tablespoons of grated, salted ricotta, 1 tablespoon of pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of raisins, 2 anchovies, 1 shallot, just 5-6 cherry tomatoes, a handful of chopped fennel and fennel greens to garnish.

In case you are concerned, the resulting flavor of these ingredients combined is neither fishy tasting, nor weirdly sweet through the anchovies and the raisins... As with all things in life, the secret to this dish is the balance of things... Not being a big fish eater, I have to say that you will be very pleasantly surprised once you give this a go- it's a real crowd pleaser!

The first thing you need to do, is to prepare the "muddica", which is Sicilian dialect for bread crumbs. I like to do this by putting the pine nuts, bread crumbs and half of the ricotta into a frying pan with a little olive oil, adding some freshly ground pepper and slowly toasting and stirring it...

...and although for the first 3-4 minutes, it will see like nothing is happening, they will suddenly start to smell incredible and to turn a beautiful, crispy, golden brown...Mmmm!

Once they are nice and crisp and brown, set them to one side and start your pasta boiling... Because the rest will not take any longer to prepare and cook than the 8-9 minutes the pasta will take to cook!

Finely chop the shallot, a little fennel, the cherry tomatoes and also, chop the anchovies down a little... They practically "melt away" to nothing once they get hot, but it is all about getting that salty flavor equally spread throughout the dish.

Fry at a good, high heat in a little olive oil until the onion begins to turn translucent.

Keep stirring until the tomatoes have all but cooked away... Don't worry- all of that good flavor is still right there in the pan! 

Next, add the spaghetti, along with a little of the water it has cooked in, along with the raisins and stir everything together well.

Next, add the breadcrumbs, plenty of freshly plucked fennel greens and toss and stir everything thoroughly. Serve with a last trickle of olive oil, plenty of freshly ground pepper or maybe a nice scattering of peperoncino and a last sprinkle of grated, salted ricotta... Divine!

This is what food in Sicily is all about!

It's like taking your tongue on a culinary roller coaster ride! Hold on tight! And enjoy!!!

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