FUSILLI ALLA MONDELLIANA
Although I can’t make any objection to the magnificent international cuisine in London, which I adore, I must admit that a good plate of pasta remains the world’s number one dish-in-itself for nearly all of us italians, as well for others!
Now just try to imagine the sensations that being back in the sunshine would bring, in Mondello (Palermo) at the Circolo della Vela*, in front of the sea (in true, and not photographic, form) while behind a plate of ‘Fusilli alla Mondelliana’. All this among great sportspersons (the Circolo is sponsoring the sailing boat Luna Rossa** together with Prada for the next America’s Cup...)
With my culinary blogs I will try to encourage even the most “hopeless” of people to create an acceptable Italian dish – all I ask is that nobody is fearful of trying! Even the ingredients are easily available and the most you will need to do is take note to buy them when you find yourself in the ‘right’ shop.
Recipe for 4 people: ‘Fusilli’ type pasta – the one shown in my photo – or any ‘short pasta’ from any pasta makers, although let’s hope that it might just be produced in Gragnano***, for example from the GAROFALO company (super!!) Alas, Barilla, De Cecco, Voiello etc just aren’t the same – 100 grams for women and 140 grams for boys, let’s say half a kilogram for two couples – otherwise measure as you wish and pay the consequences; 500 grams of cherry tomatoes (small and preferably Sicilian or Neapolitan, even from a tin – just as long as they’re Italian!!!) for example, those great little La Fontanella ones – they can be found in as far as Texas, yet with difficulty in Italy…. where on the other hand we find them fresh or in fact, ‘hanging’; olive oil; 200 g of freshswordfish, although tuna also works well; mentuccia leaves (wild mint); fresh garlic; water in which to boil the pasta MUST be plentiful and slightly salted – let’s say about a heaped soup spoon.
So how do you make it? Simple!:
A) The SAUCE
1. Place a not too small pan over the largest hob you have and reduce it to its lowest flame!! and allow a few cloves of garlic and a couple of anchovies (or a teaspoon of anchovy paste) to cook in 4 millimetres of olive oil, I repeat VERY SLOWLY! so for at least 10 minutes. The garlic in fact should not burn, but needs to almost ‘melt’. Remove the now ‘split’ garlic and...
2. add the fish cut into cubes and turn it up to a moderate heat so that the small cubes of fish begin to brown, for no longer than 3-4 minutes, delicately stir, then add the mentuccia leaves and stir for a further 1 or 2 minutes.
3. … now turn up the flame as high as it will go and add half a glass of good dry white wine. Allow it to reduce, stirring so that it doesn’t burn, for 3-4 minutes and then...
4. add the cherry tomatoes cut into 2 or 4 pieces and leave them to cook on the highest flame for 4-5 minutes, then on a low heat for the same time again. If however they are the tinned kind, leave them whole and above all leave the flame on maximum for longer, just be careful that the sauce doesn’t stick/burn!
5. Turn off the heat. Pour a coffee cup of raw olive oil into the pan and if you want, add a little grated bottarga (botargo, cured fish roe). Let the sauce rest in the pan for a few minutes before stirring it with the pasta that has just been strained...
B) the PASTA
1. The pasta will have to be undercooked!! : let’s say at least a minute under the cooking time instructed on the packet!
2. therefore if it takes 30-35 minutes to make the sauce and the water takes 15-20 mins to boil while the pasta takes, let’s say 9>12 mins to cook, well then start with the sauce…but immediately after put the water on the gas too.
3. Try to add the sauce while it’s at least warm (you will not be able to reheat it, otherwise you will ruin it) on the well-drained but still boiling hot pasta.
C) serve it, immediately! The pasta cannot wait.
I would like to thank Prince Mario Albanese Trigona and the Master of the House of the Circolo della Vela, Mr Rosario, with the first, hosting me and the second, entertaining me. I wish my friends in Palermo a good time with this challenge by the Luna Rossa.