Many moons ago when I was a practising vegan, I attended a conference in the village of Erice, perched high on a hill/mountain in western Sicily. The conference handed out meal vouchers which one could exchange for food at any of the restaurants in the village. In the main piazza there was a restaurant called something like Edelweiss which had outdoor tables. It became my go to lunch place. I explained to the waiters that I was a vegan and a vegetarian, and they concluded that I must therefore be a homosexual and perhaps a rampant homosexual to boot. I did not agree with the diagnoses and suspected that it was wishful thinking on his part. There is a bit of a thing for “bears” amongst the gamine boys.
Anyway, they served me some pasta dishes that I have never had before, drawn from a palette of Sicilian lemon juice, pine nuts and the Arab inspired almonds. I have just knocked up some Sicilian inspired pasta, the wife reckons that she would have it again, or something roughly resembling it.
You will need for two people:
~340g of freshly made egg-based tagliatelle
One small red onion finely chopped.
One clove of garlic finely chopped.
A handful of fresh basil, lovingly grown in your greenhouse, rinsed and coarsely chopped.
Four medium sized vine tomatoes.
Sniff those puppies…yum
Put them is some boiling water and boil them a little until the skin pops. Add cold water to the pan until the tomatoes are cold. Take them out skin them and remove the green bits, near where the stalk was. Chop two into quarters and two into eighths. Put them in a bowl and capture that juice from the chopping board and add that to the bowl.
About a quarter of a tube of double concentrated tomato puree.
~ 50g of uncooked pine nuts and 25g of flaked almonds
Put these in a pestle and mortar and very roughly grind them up. You want some texture, so big bits and little bits. The little bits will thicken the sauce.
You will need a pinch of sea-salt
A teaspoon of sugar
And a good squirt of Sicilian lemon juice.
Oh, and by the way a good glug of some top notch Italian extra virgin olive oil.
Put the kettle on to boil ready for the pasta.
Now with as much panache as you can muster, add the olive oil dramatically to a small deep sided non-stick frying pan.
Put in the onions.
Turn on your induction hob under the pan and listen to the space age alien sounds it makes as you soften the onions over a medium heat.
When you think the onions are soft bung in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
Now chuck in the tomatoes otherwise that garlic will burn.
Stir gently and turn down the heat a tad.
Soon you should have a nice bubbling pan, smelling fine.
Cook the tomatoes for around three minutes. They should start to soften but the idea is to keep intact juiciness. You want a lump of tomato explosion.
Add the tomato puree and stir.
Like all good cooks you will no doubt have a glass of wine on the go. Take this and add a good slurp to the pot, it does not matter if it is red or white.
Have a well-earned sip of wine…
Add the nut mixture and stir well
It probably needs some sugar and some salt.
Bung these in.
Ok, maybe it needs some more acidity…
Add a squirt of lemon juice.
If not add a little more.
The mixture should thicken slightly.
Read the instructions of the tagliatelle.
Put it onto cook, mine said 3-4 minutes.
When the pasta is boiling add the basil to the sauce and stir.
Test the pasta. OK?
If so turn off the sauce drain the pasta and dress it with the nutty-tomato homosexual Sicilian inspired sauce…