Sicily is a culturally rich and diverse island with so many unique flavours to be explored. Being a major port to the mainland of Italy, Sicily has embraced and celebrated it’s diversity through a truly unique cuisine. Remnants of Islamic rule in the 10th century can be seen in the flavours from pistachio and couscous to raisins and citrus.
Cucina povera, a term often used to describe the peasant cooking of southern Italy, is food of the poor. Often the most creative dishes come from times of scarcity as bold flavours are used to uplift humble ingredients. Join Chef Nicole Di Nardo as she shares the flavours of her childhood.
Caponata e crostini
This antipasto is a classic dish found on many Sicilian family tables before the main meal. It is exemplary of Sicilian cuisine; Arabic inspired flavours, humble ingredients, masterfully combined. It consists of golden fried eggplant, celery, tomatoes, capers, pine nuts, red onion and olives tossed in an agrodolce (sweetened vinegar) dressing. Each ingredient is cooked separately to maintain the integrity of flavour, then combined at the end. Served with toasted sourdough drizzled in quality olive oil and flake Sicilian sea salt.
Cavatelli Pasta con Piselli e Ricotta
Fresh ricotta cheese is a common ingredient in Sicilian cooking as sheep milk is plentiful. Highlighting the subtle creaminess of this cheese, this pasta dish lets it shine with fresh green peas to compliment the herbaceous quality of sheep milk. Homemade cavatelli pasta served on a bed of pea puree and finished with ricotta salata.
Being an island, fish is an integral aspect to Sicilian cooking. This is truly a ‘cucina povera’ dish as the small, plentiful sardines are amped up with strong humble flavours. Stuffed with capers, salted breadcrumbs (the Sicilian “parmigiano”) and fresh herbs, rolled then skewered. Cooked in a fresh cherry tomato sauce and served with crusty sourdough bread.
Insalata di Finocchio e Arance
Fresh crispy fennel shaved thin and tossed with orange segments, good olive oil and sea salt. Simple.
No Sicilian meal would be complete without a cannolo to finish it off. Crispy pastry shells filled with sweetened fresh ricotta and crushed pistachio.
Nicole Di Nardo is a holistic nutritionist and therapeutic chef on a mission to spread awareness on the importance of home-cooked meals. She believes healthy food does not have to be costly and takes inspiration from her Sicilian ancestors. She cooks rustic ‘Cucina Povera’ dishes to create recipes from humble ingredients that are flavourful and simple. She hosts cooking classes, conducts corporate wellness seminars and caters at wellness retreats all around Ontario. | nicoledinardonutrition.com
Every weekend The Depanneur invites a guest chef to host a fun, informal dinner party.