A Trip Along The Northern Coast of Sicily-Cefalu to Palermo

10 11 2011

It is difficult to cover the history and culture of all of the interesting villages and cities of this beautiful island.  The You Tube below should entice  the discriminating traveler to race out a purchase a round trip ticket to Palermo.  After your visit you may find you’ve wasted the money for the return ticket.

Pasta with Ricotta e Pecorino and Asparagus

The best Ricotta comes from Sicily. This dish is a sample of old peasant cooking using ingredients that are on hand.

1 lb of Penne, shells, Farfali or Spaghetti.

1 lb of asparagus-Woody ends trimmed

1 clove of finely chopped garlic

8 ounces of whole milk

1 onion chopped

2-3 tablespoons of grated pecorino

salt and pepper to taste

fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil for about 4 minutes. Remove the asparagus and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Bring the water back to a boil.  Add tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook uncovered until al dente.

Cut the asparagus diagonally  into 1/4 inch pieces and combine the them with remaining ingredients in a large bowl while pasta is cooking. Combine mixture and when the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the bowl. Mix and serve.



5 10 2011

Since 1970, Giardini Naxos has become  a popular tourist destination. Famous for its beaches, it attracts foreign visitors and Italians alike, many of whom own summer residences in the comune. The seafront, Via Tysandros, is lined with hotels, smaller pensions, pubs, restaurants and pizzerias.

In the summer months, Giardini Naxos has many tourists. The public beaches are quite crowded in the months of July and August, especially around Ferragosto which occurs on 15 August and people celebrate this event by camping on the beach in tents and running into the sea at midnight for a swim with an accompanying display of fireworks. Besides swimming and boating, there is plenty to do and see in Giardini. There are shops, discothèques, bars, strolling musicians wearing traditional Sicilian costumes, live bands, theatrical productions, and impromptu dancing on the beaches at night.

The beautiful town of Taormina is situated in the hills above Giardini and can be easily accessed by car and bus. Giardini also has many churches and an archaeological park.

I was there in April and the beaches and shops were still crowded.

Pasta with Garlic and Olive oil

1 lb spaghetti, pasta (uncooked)

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

4 tablespoons fresh minced garlic, divided

1 teaspoon dried red pepper  flakes

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and black pepper

2 Basil leaves-chopped

Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil with 3 teaspoons salt; add in the spaghetti and cook only until firm-tender; drain but RESERVE 1/2 cup pasta water.

Start this when you are boiling the pasta; Heat about 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet.

Add in 3 tablespoons garlic and about 1/2 teaspoon salt with black pepper to taste; saute stirring often until the garlic is light brown (about 6-8 minutes) remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon juice and about 2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water; mix to combine.

Transfer the drained pasta to a large serving bowl; toss with remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining reserved cooking water.

Add in the garlic mixture; toss well to combine.

Season with more black pepper and salt to taste if desired.

Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.


28 09 2011

Avola, in the province of Siracusa, managed to revive after the terrible earthquake that in 1693 destroyed all the south-eastern side of Sicily. It was rebuilt on a modern grid of perpendicular street within an exagonal perimeter. A large and square piazza with nearby minor ones marks the heart of town, according to the typical Renaissance design.

The new Avola developed around the Monte Aquilone district, the site of the ancient city, and stretches to the plain and the coast, these miraculously left undamaged by the nature disaster.

Visitors can enjoy several fine churches begin with the Chiesa Madre. Its frontage is graced with panels representing the Seven Sacrements. The façade, is so-called a torre (towered) because it is divided into three tiers. The courtyard is embellished with some statues representing Saints. The interior is divided into three naves with chapels, and is ornamented with fine pieces of art such as the painting depicting the Sposalizio della Madonna attributed to Olivo Sozzi.

Avola’s most attractive buildings include the Palazzo Ducale, near the Mother Church, flanked by a 1800’s clock-tower, and the 1800’s Palazzo di Città.

The site of Avola Antica, the ancient city, in the Monte Aquilone district, is of historical interest, with the ruins of the medieval city and features that testify to the existence of prehistoric settlements at the site.

The Cava Grande del Cassibile, consisting of a natural huge gorge stretching across the coast. The valley at the bottom of the Cava, being amongst the largest in the Iblean area, is enclosed by steep walls. It preserves numerous cave-tombs forming part of the Cassibile necropolis ranging in date from the 11th to the 9th century BC and two cave-settlements. One of these, on the northern side, can be reached following a trail traced by the shepherds, starting at the Cassibile river

Pasta con zucchini

1 pound of spaghetti
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
1 large zucchini
1 tablespoon of capers (chopped into small pieces)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
two mint leaves (shredded)
1 head of garlic (chopped)

Place spaghetti in boiling water and add a pinch of salt.
Cut zucchini in 1/4 inch slices.
Place olive oil in a saute pan. Add garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Add the pieces of zucchini to the olive oil. Turn the zucchini when it turns a light brown saute the other side and add capers.
Drain spaghetti and add to the sautéed zucchini. Mix and cover with the shredded mint.

The dish came without cheese, but I asked for Parmigiano Reggiano and of course got it.

A full-bodied Nero d’Avola red would go well here.



17 09 2011

The Fountain of Diana, in the town-hall square, rises in the ancient Roman baths, and pours water from a spring through 13 spouts. The Gothic Castello dei Naselli, with an 8-sided tower and 14th-century frescoes in the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata, was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake.

Inside the church there are a 16th-century statue of St. Nicholas and paintings by Salvatore Fiume (1983). The Church of San Biagio, that was built in the 15th century, is set on the ruins of an early 4th century church and surrounded by picturesque small houses.

The United States Air Force deployed Ground Launched cruise missiles (GLCM) to Comiso Air Base in June 1983. The missiles were eventually dismantled after the Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed by the former Soviet Union and the United States on 8 December 1987. The last 16 GLCMs left Comiso Air Base in 1991.

Veal Saltimbocca

  • 4 (5-ounce) thinly sliced veal cutlets (scallopini)
  • 4 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
  • sliced black olives
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Place the veal cutlets on a sheet of plastic wrap. Place a piece of prosciutto on top of each piece of veal. Gently flatten the cutlets with a meat mallet, until the pieces are about 1/4-inch thick and the proscuitto sticks to the veal. Stick a toothpick in and out of the veal to secure the prosciutto. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to combine. Dredge the veal in the seasoned flour.

Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter and in a large skillet over medium flame. Place the veal in the pan, prosciutto-side down. Cook until crisp then turn the veal over and saute the other side until golden. Transfer the saltimbocca to a serving platter, remove the toothpicks, and keep warm.

Add the wine to the pan, capers and black olives. Let the wine cook down. Add the chicken broth and remaining tablespoon of butter, swirl the pan around. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the saltimbocca. Serve immediately.

Campobello di Mazara

11 09 2011

It borders on the neighbouring cities of Mazara del Vallo and Castelvetrano, and is colloquially known just as Campobello. Important attractions include the “Museum of the life and work of peasant” & the “Cave Rock of Cusa” which is where the stone from Selinute was extracted to build temples.
The land is made up of limestone and red & brown soil. The Campobello di Mazara economy revolves around the production of olives, grapes, almonds, cereals, sheep & cattle.

An illegal horse race ‘was stopped by police in Campobello di Mazara (TP), the municipal road “Bell”, near homonym of landfill waste, along a straight stretch of paved road about two miles. Thirty-three people, including animal owners and spectators, were arrested. They were mainly workers, farm laborers, masons, drivers, but also some young unemployed and elderly pensioners. Horses that were going to race there were nine in number. But the race, and ‘was blocked before it started. The owners of horses were given fines for animal abuse, while the spectators in the competition were also charged with the same crime. Anyone who challenged the contravention of the Highway Code, which provides for an administrative penalty from 78 to 311 euros in case of participation in any capacity, in races of animals not allowed on public roads.

Classic Sicilian Frittata

Sausage, egg, and sun-dried tomato omelet

In Italy eggs are not only used as a breakfast meal, but is often served for dinner or lunch with a crusty loaf of bread. I like to use chopped Italian sausage, but you can substitute, chopped pancetta, beacon, or even pieces of shrimp.

6 large eggs

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

Olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 red or green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped black olives

1 tablespoon of capers

3 Italian sausages-removed from casing

Salt, Pepper

1/4 cup of whole milk

1 cup of parmesan shredded cheese

Buttered nonstick oven pan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. In the heavy nonstick, buttered, ovenproof pan, place the olive oil and saute the onions. When they are translucent, add the chopped sausage. When the sausage is cooked through, add the peppers, olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Pour this mixture into the bowl of the whisked eggs and add the milk.  Pour this into the ovenproof pan and cover the mixture with the shredded parmesan cheese. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Slide onto a large plate, or a wooden carving board, and with crusty Italian bread and a glass of dry white wine.

San Stefano di Camastra

6 09 2011

The town sits at the foothills on the northern slopes of the Nebrodi Mountains, on a hill in a panoramic position over the Thyrrhenian Sea, with the Aeolian islands in the distance. It is famous for its production of ceramics, that are sold to visitors in the many shops along the streets of the center.

It is located about 100 km east of Palermo and about 85 miles west of Messina. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 5,162.
The village itself is a homage to ceramics with its panels in the squares, house street numbers, the signs and floors of the shops. It is the main ceramics center in western Sicily, and its repertoire is extremely rich of forms and colors, including among its main motives geometrical decorations in bright enamel colors.

Sausage and Peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil.

4-6 Italian sausages hot or sweet.

3 peppers-1 red-1yellow-one green-cored and sliced.

1 onion sliced.

1/4 cup capers

2 cloves sliced garlic.

1/2 cup Kalamata olives-sliced

Pinch of red pepper flakes.

Salt and pepper.

1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning.

Over medium heat add olive oil and sausages. Cook, turning them until they are brown. Remove and set aside.

Add onions, garlic and peppers. Stir mixture and cook until onions and peppers are soft.

Add salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

Return sausages to pan. Mix and cook until the sausages are cooked through.

Serve with crusty Italian bread.


9 08 2011

The providence, Enna is situated near the center of the island. Enna, the village is sitting on a mountaintop and affords the visitor a panoramic view of the valleys below.
It is unique as it is the most important city in Sicily not founded by foreigners. Scholars believe it was founded in 1200 BC. That would make it the oldest continuous-inhabited city on the island. Enna is the only province of Sicily that has no coastline.

The Castello di Lambardia is Enna’s most impressive building. Built in the late 13th or early 14th century by Fredrick III. It’s duomo was built-in the early 13th century. The city was once surrounded by walls and had seven entrances into its numerous cobblestone streets and alleyways.

Since it has no coastline, fish is not the main thing on their restaurants.

Oven roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

For he best flavor, select yellow-fleshed potatoes or white fleshed Maine potatoes. Serve with Veal,  lamb chops, or steak.

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

12  cloves of garlic, crushed

1 1/2pounds of yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices

9 rosemary sprigs, salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees

In a metal baking pan over low heat, warm olive oil and garlic until the garlic blends with the oil.  1-2 minutes.

Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Place potatoes in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds and drain.  Place the potatoes in the pan with the garlic.  Sprinkle the potatoes with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes so as to thoroughly coat them with the oil and  rosemary.

Spread the potatoes out in a single layer in the baking pan. Place the pan in the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Roast, stirring 2-3 times until there is even browning. Roast for about an hour or until they are tender (test by piercing with a fork).

Plate immediately and serve.