A couple of weeks ago, I got hold of a copy of the new cookbook ‘Sicily’ by the Caldesi husband & wife duo. The visuals & aesthetic are what draw me usually with cookbooks and the photography here gives you an instant familiarity with the island and its food. More importantly, the recipes are easy to follow and make my mouth salivate uncontrollably. Over thousands of years, Sicily has been invaded by different empires i.e. Arabs, Roman, Greek which over time has influenced the Sicilian cuisine making it extremely unique.
This week, the three recipes that I have chosen to cook are my favourite dishes selected from the Caldesis’ new cookbook, hoping to give an interesting representation of this Italian islands cooking.
First up is the creamy tomato risotto. Risottos are fun and simple to make. There are an unknown number of recipes all including a wide variety of ingredients, giving those little grains of rice interesting coats of flavours. However, what I loved about this recipe is how the emphasis is solely on delicious cherry tomatoes…and that’s it. The chunks of buffalo mozzarella, as a serving suggestion is a dream, a match made in heaven when paired with the sweetness of the tomatoes.
Ingredients (4 people)
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
500g cherry tomatoes
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Salt & pepper
300g arborio or other risotto rice
A glass of white wine
750ml chicken stock
50g parmesan, grated
250g buffalo mozzarella
- First up, make the cherry tomato sauce.
- Drizzle some olive oil in a pan, and fry half the onion & 1 celery stalk, chopped.
- Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan. If the tomatoes are on the vine, add that to the pan with the basil. Season with salt & pepper. Cover the pan.
- Halfway through cooking the sauce, mash the tomatoes to help release the juices. Remove the vine at the end.
2. Next up, cook the risotto
- Melt half the butter and olive oil in a wide pan. Fry the rest of the onion and celery.
- Add the rice and toast it in the pan for 3-5 minutes.
- Pour the wine into the pan and on a medium heat allow it to evaporate.
- At this point, add the tomato sauce and give it a good stir.
- Then slowly add the stock, a bit at a time, keep the risotto stirring until the rice is cooked.
- Remove the pan off the heat. Sprinke the Parmesan and add the rest of the butter on top. Cover the pan for a few minutes to let it melt. Then give the risotto a good stir.
- Serve with chunks of buffalo mozzarella, basil leaves and black pepper