I loved my visit to Sicily last year. When the going gets tough, I think of Ortigia, that little island that is part of Siracusa, in the south east corner of Sicily. I look back at the blog posts I wrote about the market in Ortigia and the town of Modica and dream. A few months ago, New Zealand based author Nicky Pellegrino whose father is Italian, found these same blog posts and wrote to me on Twitter. The posts were remarkably aligned with her newest novel, the “Food of love cookery school”, which is set in the fictitious town of Favio but actually based on Modica. The novel is a tale of four women who go to a cooking school run by Luca Amore in Favio; each of the women is looking for something more than new cooking skills from their time in Sicily.
Nicky sent me two copies of the book, which I am giving away as prizes to two lucky readers/photographers. The task is this – post a photo on Instagram and hashtag it #foodoflovecompetiton. The photo should capture your thoughts on the themes of friends, food, Italy and love. You can enter up to two photos. The competition will start today Wednesday 26th March 2014 and will finish on Saturday 12th April. The competition will be judged by Lisa La Spina, who together with her chef husband Alfredo, runs the fabulous Bar Idda, my favourite little part of Sicily on Lygon St in Brunswick.
To put you in the mood for food, love, friends and Italy, I have prepared a simple Sicilian-inspired pasta dish – cavatelli with sausage, peas and cinnamon. You will LOVE this dish, which is spicy and hearty, just made to be shared with friends. My recipe is based on one at the back of Nicky’s book by Katia Amore, whose cooking school in Modica Nicky spent time at to research the book. Now that sounds like my type of research! Further inspiration is a music clip from the legendary Mina and Alberto Lupo at the end of this post.
Good luck to all those who enter the competition. The book is a great weekend or holiday read – you can imagine you are on a cooking holiday in Sicily. I hope to see you all on Instagram with lovely photos for Lisa and Alfredo to pick from. You can find me there as @italyonmymind and if you look on the right hand side of this post, you can see my latest Instagram photos. Just click on one of the photos to have a closer look.
Cavatelli con salsiccia, piselli e cannella (Cavatelli with sausage, peas and cinnamon)
175g Cavatelli (or other semolina based pasta without eggs)
2 pork and fennel sausages
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
good pinch of dried chillies
1/2 glass red wine
2/3 – 3/4 cup tomato passata
1/2 – 2/3 cup frozen peas
grated pecorino cheese to serve
fresh parsley leaves, chopped, to serve (optional)
Remove the casings from the sausages and break up the meat into pieces. Add a glug of olive oil to a large frypan on medium-high and add the sausage meat. Cook for about 5 minutes until the meat has cooked through, stirring every minute or so, then add the wine. Let that cook off, then add the cinnamon, the chilli and the passata. Turn the heat down to low and allow the flavours to infuse as it cooks, adding the peas after a few minutes. Once you have added the peas, stir them through. Stir occasionally, adding more passata if needed. The sauce should take about ten minutes after the peas have been added.
Boil salted water in a large pot and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the drained pasta, stirring it well. Sprinkle on grated pecorino and parsley leaves (if using) to serve.
And now here is Mina (singing) with Alberto Lupo (speaking) in the 1972 song “Parole, parole, parole” – I love the way she ignores him as he says words of love to her “tu sei il mio sempre” (you are my forever). She replies singing “they are just parole (words)”.