Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Oh, Sugar!

Pasta con Melanzane, Peperone, Pangrattato, Acciughe, Pistacchi e Zucchero
Pasta with Eggplant, Bell Pepper & Toasted Breadcrumbs with Pistachio, Anchovy & Sugar

It's a simple pasta dish, it is very Sicilian-influenced and it is quick and easy to make- how do you like the sound of that? Pretty enticing already, isn't it?

And then you look at the ingredients and either think, "oh no!" or "oh wow!"

So- what's it gonna be with you?

This whole thing of adding toasted breadcrumbs to pasta dishes is SO Sicilian and I love it! When it starts getting EVEN MORE Sicilian- in the Palermo version, where anchovies and sugar are added to the crumbs- well- I love it even more!

But of course- I had to add a little something extra to make it even more my own dish-but still kept it totally tasting of "The Old Country", by adding ground pistachios into the mix... and what can be more Sicilian than that?

For 2 nice portions of pasta- tortiglioni in this case, I needed just 1 small eggplant, 1/2 of a bell pepper, 1 large anchovy, 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon of ground pistachios, salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh basil and parsley. 

Garlic would have been great with this- but there are days when you have a dentists appointment the next morning- haha! 

And I decided to do without the cheese- because you just HAVE to have it when the bread crumbs taste this delicious... and because my Vegan girlfriends will thank me for it! Except... wait a minute! Anchovies! Sorry!!!

Also, there was a lot less oil or fat involved in the preparation of this dish than you might presume- which made it quite a healthy dish at the same time too!

The first thing to do of course is to prepare the breadcrumbs. To do this, I heated up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and added the chopped anchovy. Once it began to sizzle, I added the breadcrumbs, the pistachio, 1 teaspoon of sugar, the stalks of the parsley and basil, finely chopped and a little black pepper.

I stir-fried these on a medium heat, until the crumbs became lightly golden and toasted, with the salty anchovy, the sugar and the parsley and basil stalks to flavor them... wonderfully, simply aromatic and delicious!

I then set these to one side to cool, rinsed my pan, got my water boiling for the pasta- and then got busy with the vegetables.

I cut the eggplant in half lengthways and then cut the halves into thin slices and did the same with the pepper likewise. I then added a ladleful of water from my saucepan and popped on the lid to let them steam for 1-2 minutes before adding a little oil. The steaming of course makes the vegetables softer and begins them cooking, but for the eggplant in any case, it makes them so moist that they soak up less oil... and THENI fried them together for 4-5 minutes until they became lightly browned. 

And in the meantime of course, I boiled the pasta.

After 5-6 minutes, the eggplant and peppers are cooked through, tender and slightly browned... maybe not as pretty as being fried in plenty of oil- but every bit as tasty.

After 6-7 minutes of boiling, I added the pasta and the finely chopped parsley and basil leaves, a little of the water from boiling and stirred everything together for a further 3-4 minutes, until all of the water had been absorbed.

I then added the breadcrumbs and stirred everything through thoroughly... and served it up- as quick as could be!

A last light drizzle of olive oil right at the end, a little freshly ground pepper- and a wonderful meal was ready to be enjoyed to the full!

And yes- it is the salty anchovy, the sweet peppers and the added sugar that make this So good! With so little ingredients- so much flavor! 

But please- do add garlic and even a little chili if you wish- and even cheese for that matter... although it was perfect this way too!

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