Wild Spinach Pasta

Sicily is Delicious.
I can firmly state this. From the ricotta-filled croissants, to the pistachio granitas, the warm brioches, the almond pastries, the coffee ice creams, the cassatas, cannoli with sheep's ricotta, the candied orange, the chocolate, the fish dinners, the wines, the cheeses, the bottarga….it's a never ending celebration.
But how? How can they manage to make food taste so deliciously?
IMG_7557I have stopped in San Giacomo, at my friend's place. Nella is a fantastic cook. And I spend some time with her, in the kitchen of course. She makes caponata, a pasta with wild spinach and Sicilian sausage, shiacce, a ricotta and onion pie and cassatelle. One thing done, and into the wood-fired oven it goes. So, it's a continuous flow of foods chopped, fried, mixed, dough kneaded, pies filled and pots stirred. I make the most out of the fantastic light outside. I am in and out of the kitchen taking photos.


Her two dogs, Nathalie and Nutella, have kind eyes, the colour of the Sicilian fields in Summer. Golden. They follow me, hoping to get a bite or two. One cries near my feet if I take too long to photograph the dish. 'It's too painful to smell!' it seems she is telling me. So I swoosh off back to the kitchen. And out again with a plate of steaming pasta speckled with cooked wild spinach and sundried tomatoes and crumbled sausage. It is so pretty, and smells divinely.
I place it on the dining table in the shade, and I get carried away taking shots. The dogs seem to have given up. No sound of them. All of a sudden, the light diminishes and the photo looks dark. It must be a cloud I think. But it's not! Amazed at how swift it all happens. Nutella's nose is in the plate and she is wolfing down the pasta! A silent jump on the table and pounced on the food! I even manage a shot of 'the nose intrusion'.
Oh dear me! Who is in most trouble? Nutella or me? I let her finish it. I slip in unseen. Plate in the sink. No one notices.

We are both safe! Till now…..

Claire Borg



Wild Spinach Pasta

By 7th October 2013

If you are foraging for wild spinach, make sure you know what you are picking. Better to go with a local expert if you still need to get a hang on what is what. If you want to use regular spinach i guess it is as good but, not as wild! In Sicily, this wild plant is called Aghiti. 

 The sundried tomatoes need to be properly rinsed. They are too salty if the salt is not washed off properly. Sicilian sausage is made with minced pork, red wine, fennel seeds and pepper. If you cannot get hold of any from your butcher, just flavour some mince with the mentioned ingredients and covered, let it all rest overnight in the fridge. Short pasta goes best with this sauce. In this recipe we have made our own pasta with Sicilian finely ground semolina flour, salt, olive oil and water. If you want to buy the pasta, Ditali or Cavatelli are very good match.

This is such a simple yet tasty recipe.



Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the washed spinach and cook just until wilted, but stalks still crunchy. Remove, keeping the water, to then cook the pasta in it. 

Drain the spinach properly, and finely shop.

Crumble some Sicilian sausage and cook. It will cook in it's own fat, so do not add any oil in the pan. Add the chopped spinach and some of the cooking water (spinach), cook for a few minutes and set aside.

In olive oil, cook 2 tbsp of finely chopped onion and another 2 tbsp of finely chopped garlic.Using kitchen scissors, chop about 4/6 halves of Sundried tomato and add to the sauce. Then, add it to the cooked sausage mix, stir well and mix with the cooked pasta (cavatelli). Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs (with a little olive oil) and serve immediately. 


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