Our recent trip to Sicily was culinary nirvana for seafood lovers like ourselves. At Bed & Breakfast Mammaliturchi we feasted on one amazing meal after another, each prepared authentically with passione and pride by hosts Cico and Lola.
- Spaghetti al nero de seppia (spaghetti with black squid Ink)
- Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams)
- Pasta ai gamberi rossi (pasta with shrimp)
- Cozze al pomodoro (mussels in tomato broth)
- Ostriche gratinate al forno (baked oysters with breadcrumbs)
- Spigola arrosto (grilled sea bass)
- Grigliata di pesce (grilled seafood)
- Gamberi rossi al pomodoro (shrimp in tomato sauce)
One of our favorite dishes, spaghetti al pesce spada con pistacchi (swordfish spaghetti with pistachio), captured the essence of Sicily by uniting freshly caught swordfish with ground Sicilian Bronte pistachios and that most essential Sicilian garnish – seasoned, toasted bread crumbs.
We’d never eaten swordfish with pasta before, but trust us – it is delicious. It probably didn’t hurt that our swordfish could not have been fresher, having been fished that very morning, but we’ve since made the recipe with swordfish that arrived in landlocked Minnesota on an airplane, and it’s equally good. It’s a spectacular dish that’s surprisingly simple to make.
Cico served the pasta with a Sicilian white wine, Inzolia of the Principe di Corleone winery, and generously shared his recipe with us so we could pass it along to our Due Spaghetti readers.
- 1 package of spaghetti
- 2 medium fillets of swordfish, preferably fresh caught
- 2 cloves garlic
- Crushed red pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Dry white wine
- 6-8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
- Bottarga (optional)
- Toasted bread crumbs
- Ground pistachios
- Dice the swordfish into small cubes. Set aside.
- Crush or slice the garlic.
- In a large skillet big enough to accommodate the cooked spaghetti, sauté the garlic and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes in about one-half cup of olive oil and two pats of butter until it is fragrant and golden. Remove and discard the garlic.
- Add a dash of white wine (about 1/3 cup) and allow the alcohol to cook off for about 2 minutes.
- Add the cubed swordfish to the skillet, turning it as needed so that it cooks on all sides. Salt to taste.
- When the swordfish is seared on all sides, add the sliced cherry tomatoes to the skillet. Cover the skillet and let the sauce cook until the swordfish breaks into small pieces and the tomatoes deconstruct. Taste and adjust for salt as needed. If you have bottarga, grate a little into the mixture.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water abundantly and add the pasta, noting the cooking time specified on the packaging.
- When 3-4 minutes remain until the pasta is al dente, remove the spaghetti from the cooking water and add it to the skillet with the swordfish. Preserve the cooking water.
- Over medium-high heat, toss the pasta with the swordfish mixture, adding one ladel at a time of the cooking water as needed to finish cooking the spaghetti. This may take approximately 5-8 minutes, but taste to check for doneness.
- Serve immediately with a sprinkling of bread crumbs and ground pistachio on top.
Sicilians call toasted bread crumbs muddica atturrata. To make your own, sauté a clove of garlic in olive oil, along with a small anchovy and a little of the anchovy oil. When the garlic is cooked, remove it from the oil. Add enough unseasoned bread crumbs to the pan to absorb the oil. Toast the breadcrumbs over low heat, stirring continuously for two or three minutes.
Bronte pistachios are high-quality, Sicilian-grown pistachios grown in the Bronte region. If you cannot find them, regular pistachios can be used. Grind them in your food processor.