Tomato Ricotta Pasta from a Sicilian Kitchen

February 19th, 2010 / comments 5

This  post is out of order – I blame it on jet lag. After a long night of travel, we finally arrived in Siracusa. sir courtyard 01  Tomato Ricotta Pasta from a Sicilian KitchenWe took a nap only to wake up and sleep for ten hours. The following morning, we crawled out of bed into the welcoming sunshine. Charles unpacked suitcases while I checked out my Sicilian kitchen. I found a small refrigerator, a cook-top with three burners, a tiny sink and a window with a view of the blue-green Mediterranean.

There was plenty of space in the nearly empty drawers for my arsenal of can’t-cook-without-it tools I had packed. My knives, the immersion blender that also functions as a mini food processor, the coarse and fine micro planes, a scale, measuring spoons and cups, and an instant read digital thermometer made my Sicilian kitchen seem a bit more like the one I left behind in Vermont. Even with these additions, the kitchen was not as well equipped as I had hoped so we had to set out in search of other kitchen essentials including a small toaster oven.

Life in Sicily is full of serendipity and detours. Our first detour was a stop at the Caffe Minerva for a macchiato and a ricotta filled pastry. Delizioso! Our second detour involved the open-air market. It was already noon, we had slept until ten, and the vendors would be gone long before we got back from our search for the super mercato. We needed food and since all of the fresh food we eat will be from local vendors, I had to shop for food before I shopped for the tools that I would need. The vendors’ stalls line both sides of the street for two blocks along Via Benedictine. My stomach was still on Vermont time, 5 am, so I was drawn to the fruit rather than to the squid and cuttlefish.

madarine 01 Tomato Ricotta Pasta from a Sicilian Kitchen

I filled a canvas shopping bag with blood oranges,  green skinned mandarines, one very large, lumpy skinned lemon, a pair of tomatoes shaped like deeply fluted pumpkins, garlic, a head of fennel and a container of olives. At the last stall, I bought a roasted red pepper from a vendor who had a small charcoal grill. He wrapped the still warm pepper in a bit of foil, and after I had paid him thirty Euro cents for it, he took the last onion from his grill, wrapped it and tucked it into my bag with a smile. After sampling the fresh mozzarella and buying a liter of fresh ricotta we were ready to go in search of the super mercato.

The third detour of the day occurred when Charles reminded me that since we didn’t have a car and we had to carrying everything we bought, we should take the food to our apartment before we tried to find the super mercato.

Our shopping bags emptied, we boarded the free public bus and confidently set off. An hour later, with a few missteps along the way and the help of three girls riding on the bus we arrived at the SUPER super mercato. It was farther than we expected and many times larger than I had imagined. It had everything I needed – staples including dried pasta, salt and pepper, olive oil, tomato paste, butter, honey and even a toaster oven!
Olive Nere Tomato Ricotta Pasta from a Sicilian KitchenIt was raining and we were tired when we got back to our apartment. When I turned on the kitchen light and saw the olives and tomatoes on the counter, I knew that I had everything I needed to make crostini and pasta for our first meal from my Sicilian kitchen. Here’s how I did it: … read more

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