- In a heavy based pan, heat ½ tbsp of oil and gently cook the onion, garlic, and chili until soft with half the oregano.
- Meanwhile, heat 3-4 tbsp of oil in another frying pan and start browning the aubergines. Once cooked, add to the onion mixture. Fry the raisins in another ½ tbsp oil and, when they have puffed up, add to the aubergine mix. Add the tomatoes, purée, and rest of the oregano. Cook on a medium heat for 15-20 mins so all the flavors come together.
- Finally, add the capers and the vinegar and leave on a low heat while you cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water. If the mixture becomes very thick add 100ml of water. Toss the pasta through the aubergine sauce and sprinkle with fresh mint and the pine nuts and don’t forget the cheese
Every time I hear Sicily The Godfather theme song starts playing in my head! Sorry for the stereotyping… but after the research I did I am apparently not that far off. Sicily is still largely ruled by the Mafia, and I don’t think it’s as romantic and exciting as it sounds… It just means lots and lots of corruption. The Mafia is an everyday part of life in Sicily, I mean over 80% of businesses in Palermo pay pizzo (protection money). The strangest thing is the government only recently (1992) started fighting back against the mafia, before that no one really cared… Imagine having your country been taken over by organized crime and no one actually giving a damn about it. Nonetheless, the island of Sicily is supposed to be extraordinary, and I really really really wanna go there especially since Palermo the capital has been awarded the title of best street food capital of the world!!!
Things you didn’t know about Sicily:
- According to Greek mythology, ships that pass to the Messina strait between Sicily and Calabria are in danger of being attacked by Scylla and Charibdys, the monsters that guard either side of the narrow passage. This myth gave rise to the expression “between Scylla and Charybdis,” a local equivalent to “between a rock and a hard place.”
- The Sonnet! The most famous of all traditional poetic forms, consisting of fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter with an elaborate rhyme pattern, was originally invented by a poet from the Sicilian school, Giacomo da Lentini. From Italy, the sonnet was taken to France and England, where writers such as William Shakespeare made extensive use of the form.
- The hilltop town of Corleone has become synonymous with the Mafia: the place where bosses Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano were raised was also chosen by Mario Puzo as the home town of his characters in The Godfather.
- While the Invasion of Normandy, or D-Day, is celebrated as the great turning point of World War II, it is also true that the invasion of Sicily by the Allies in 1943 was an earlier victory that began turning the tables on the Axis powers. Codenamed Operation Husky, the battle lasted for 38 days and culminated with a decisive victory for the invading Allied forces.
- Sicily is rich in ancient Greek ruins, and many say that they surpass in beauty those found in modern-day Greece. For a long time, the ancient Greeks controlled a large part of the island, mostly in the eastern region around Syracuse, where the famous mathematician Archimedes was born. Well-preserved Greek ruins still remain in Syracuse, Taormina, and near Agrigento. The latter is the location of the famous “Valley of the temples,” a collection of seven different temples dedicated to different Greek deities.
This is basically my twist on Pasta a la Norma/caponata, Sicilians love eggplants any way they can get them so almost every Sicilian dish contains them. No problem for me since I really like eggplants. This is pasta I have been making for years, one of the first recipes I came up with myself, by simply being broke and working with what I had laying around… Back then I used canned roasted eggplant and canned tomatoes and all the spices were dried and that works fine as well but fresh veggies are just so much better believe me. And on the plus side, it is really quick and easy.
This recipe is for 4 people.
- 4-5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1 small dried red chili, chopped
- handful oregano or marjoram, roughly chopped
- 2 medium eggplants diced into 2½ cm/1in cubes
- 50g raisins
- 4 large tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp baby capers, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
- 2-3 tbsp good quality red wine vinegar
- 400g fusilli
- small handful mint, roughly chopped
- 50g pine nuts, toasted
- Parmesan cheese