Pasta alla Siciliana

Pasta alla Siciliana is a traditional Sicilian pasta dish and a specialty of Messina. It’s made with linguine or spaghetti, and a collection of powerful ingredients. It combines the typical sweet, spicy and salty tastes of the Sicilian traditional food. The dish is very simple and takes only a few minutes of preparation. Its success depends crucially on the quality of the ingredients. The magic comes with the tastiness of the olive oil, the dried tomatoes, the olives, and the capers. 

Ingredients

500g Spaghetti or Linguine
4-6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (preferably fair and CO2 negative)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
4-6 anchovy fillets (optional)
1 tsp chili flakes (or 1 small fresh chill pepper)
1 Tbs fennel seeds (soaked in water for a few hours)
1-2 Tbs salted capers (optional, don’t use capers in vinegar)
90g sun dried tomatoes, chopped
60g sultana
15 black olives, chopped
4 Tbs pine nuts
½ – 1  cup chopped fresh parsley
½- 1 cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino (or Caciocavallo, or Parmesan) cheese

Method

Prepare all the ingredients so that you can quickly add them when needed.
Put abundant water on to boil for the pasta, waiting for it to come to the boil before salting it with 2-3 Tbs of salt. Add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions, though start checking it a good two minutes before it’s meant to be ready.

While the pasta is cooking, roast the pine nuts in a dry pan and put them aside. Then make the sauce by heating the olive oil and carefully fry the garlic for a few minutes. Don’t let it burn! Add the anchovies and let them “melt”. Then add chili, the drained fennel seeds, capers, dried tomatoes, sultanas, olives, and pine nuts.  

Just before draining the pasta, remove a cupful of pasta-cooking water and add a few tablespoons of it to the sauce, just enough to give it a saucy texture. Add black pepper to taste.

Tip the drained pasta into your pan with the sauce and gently toss it to coat (add a little more pasta-cooking water if you need it) and sprinkle with parsley and basil leaves.

Before serving sprinkle this traditional Sicilian dish with grated Pecorino (or Caciocavallo, or Parmesan) cheese.

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