On the back of my Sicilian holiday this summer I fancied gathering some friends and family together for a Sicilian inspired feast. My love of Italy is well documented within my blog and amongst my friends. In fact, many of my recent holidays have taken me to mainland Italy and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. Most recently my latest trip took me back to Cefalù. A town on the north coast of Sicily and later on to Catania on the east.
Reminiscing about the wonderful produce available to me on holiday, I wanted to bring a little bit of that home and spread the Sicilian love of life, food and wine with some of my favourite people. I decided that Caponata would be my main course dish. A Sicilian stew of aubergine, red onion, tomatoes, oregano, olives and capers. It has a sweet and sour vibe going on with the addition of sultanas and wine vinegar. A personal favourite of mine and now a firm favourite with my chum Serena. I believe the words “this is my new favourite thing” were echoed!
Before the Caponata was served my guests and I were treated to some wonderful antipasti that Serena was kind enough to contribute. Amazing olives, dips and nibbles that did go slightly off-piste with the theme but delicious none the less. Alongside the nibbles we enjoyed some Prosecco as our aperitivo which set the tone of our Sicilian night spectacularly. Now, I know Prosecco isn’t traditionally Sicilian but it is on every bar menu that I have come across on my travels. You really can’t beat a glass of fizz with your pre-dinner nibbles.
Once the nibbles were close to ending I slipped away to make some couscous to have alongside our Sicilian aubergine stew. I would never have thought that couscous was a dish synonymous with Sicily but whilst there I enjoyed it twice. Mostly with fish dishes but here I thought it would be a great carrier for the sweet and sour flavours of the Caponata. Easily prepared I pimped up the couscous with more sultanas and plenty of chopped parsley. The addition of pine nuts or slivered almonds would have gone down very well here but I was all out! Never mind.. next time!
I served the Caponata and couscous at the table so everyone could help themselves. I love this way of serving food. It means that you are individually in control of your own portions and if you fancy more you can help yourselves. To drink alongside I produced a bottle of Nero d’Avola that I had purchased on a visit to Abbazia Santa Anastasia a vineyard near the town of Cefalù. It worked wonderfully alongside the rich tomato sauce of the Caponata. To read about my visit to Abbazia Santa Anastasia then click the link here.
Our next course was provided by Tim. An amazing array of Italian cheeses that certainly hit the spot. Served alongside biscuits, chutney (not very Italian but I love it!) and fruit. I always adore the cheese course!
For dessert, I made some mini cannoli. Little fried pastry shells filled with a mixture of ricotta and mascarpone cheese sweetened with icing sugar and candied fruits. I added some colourful cherries, orange peel and angelica. I served some off-dry Marsala alongside which worked a treat. What a feast! It certainly brought back many memories of my time spent on the Italian island of Sicily.
What a great way to tell all your friends and loved ones about your holiday with a delicious feast inspired by your travels. Much easier on your chums than traipsing through hundreds of photos wouldn’t you say!? Try it for yourselves you won’t be disappointed.