Authentic cuisine from Italy's southernmost region, including spaghetti with clams and a simple butternut squash risotto with crispy pancetta.
Food & Wine
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Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini
This recipe for arancini—fried risotto balls—comes from Renato Poliafito, who got it from his Sicilian cousin Emanuele Sanfilippo. "Renato is obsessed with arancini," says Matt Lewis, "especially this version with toasted pistachios." These arancini are the size of tangerines, filled with creamy, cheesy rice, studded with nuts and green peas and encased in a great crunchy crust.
"I look forward to going to Sicily for many reasons," says Frank Castronovo of his biannual trip to southern Italy. "One of them is because I'm amazed at how many times Frank [Falcinelli] can order linguine con vongole." Their exquisite, supersimple version is packed with garlic and a judicious amount of crushed red pepper. If you prefer, shell the clams before tossing them with their juices in the pasta.
This simple and satisfying risotto was inspired by a dish from Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene's famed restaurant, Gangivecchio, in Sicily. You can substitute bacon and most types of winter squash (like delicata) for the ingredients used here.
When making this dish in Marche, Italy, Fabio Trabocchi's father used pork from neighboring farmers, which he marinated using oranges from Sicily, wild fennel from the surrounding fields and herbs from a container garden on the family's back porch.
To top meaty mahimahi at Marea, Michael White makes a vinegary caponata (a Sicilian relish) with fresh artichoke hearts, not the traditional tomatoes and eggplant. Trimming artichokes can be time-consuming, so buy marinated artichoke hearts from the grocery store instead.
Many Mediterranean cooks use clay pots to cook foods without added liquid. In Sicily, the method is called affogato and the pot is an earthenware tegame. In Paula Wolfert's adaptation of a specialty she enjoyed many years ago at the Ristorante Circolo Uliveto, in the Sicilian town of Trecastagni, she substitutes an easier-to-find cazuela for the tegame. She uses it to cook coarsely chopped broccoli rabe (ideally the young, leafy kind) with grated pecorino cheese, briny olives and meaty anchovies, then folds the mixture into boiled pasta and bakes it.
Flavored with Parmesan and garlic and studded with raisins, scrumptious Sicilian meatballs turn vegetable soup into a tempting meal. If the soup waits, the pasta may absorb much of the liquid; just add water or more stock.