Enna is located in the center of the Sicily and although it does not have a seacoast, it has more lakes than any other Sicilian province. Enna’s cuisine is characterized by simple dishes that reflect an agricultural and sheep herding community. Vegetables, oranges, lemons, eggs and cheese are used in many local recipes. Pastas with mashed beans, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplants or tomatoes are common. Wild asparagus are a great local favorite as are bitter chicory and wild fennel. Black Lentils from Leonforte, near Enna are well-known and used quite often in Sicilian cooking.
4 large artichokes, cleaned
2 lemons, one cut in half and the other cut into thin slices
4 cups water
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tsp sea salt
Place cleaned artichokes in bowl with lemon halves and water. While the artichokes are soaking, prepare the stuffing by heating the butter with 3 tablespoons of oil in an 8-inch skillet. Add minced garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add bread crumbs and dried Italian seasoning. Stir for one minute while the bread crumbs brown slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
Spread the leaves of the artichokes open by hitting the chokes upside down on a work surface to spread the leaves. Fill each with about ½ cup of the breadcrumb mixture.
Place each artichoke in a deep pot with water 1/4 of the way up the side of the pot. Add one teaspoon of salt to the water and drizzle with the remaining one tablespoon of oil over artichokes and place lemon slices on top. Cover; bring to a boil and then reduce the flame to a simmer. Cook over a low flame for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat and serve room temperature.
Black Lentils Enna Style
This lentil dish is often served with fish.
½ large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup black lentils, washed and drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil
Place the lentils in a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water; cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook gently for 15 minutes. Mix in the vegetables; cover the pan and continue cooking gently until lentils are tender, about 35-40 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Pasta Cu Li Sarde Milanese
It was troops from northern Italy who introduced the method of salting that was used to preserve sardines in Enna, hence the name Milanese. Most cooks now prefer fresh or sardines in oil. This is also a great recipe for St. Joseph’s Day (March 19), especially when toasting the breadcrumbs to resemble sawdust.
½ cup olive oil
½ cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz fresh sardines, deveined, cleaned, deboned
1 cup white wine
2 cups plum tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup fennel top leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
½ cup dried raisins
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 lb pasta bucatini
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Heat the olive oil in saucepan. Add onions and garlic and cook until caramelized and golden brown. Add sardines. Mix these ingredients, allowing the fish to break up as you go. Add white wine, tomatoes and fennel. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus the oregano, raisins and pine nuts.
In a separate pot, bring a gallon of water with a pinch of salt. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving a cup of water from the boiling pot. Add the drained pasta to sauce and mix well. If the sauce is too dense, add some of the pasta water until you reach the desired consistency.
Mix breadcrumbs and Pecorino Romano cheese together. Put the pasta in a bowl and sprinkle the breadcrumbs and cheese on top. Finish with parsley for garnish. Place each bowl under the broiler for a minute to toast the breadcrumbs.
Swordfish with Salmoriglio Sauce
Salmoriglio is a marinade and sauce that is easy to make and adds a great deal of flavor to fish.
For the Salmoriglio
½ cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
3 smashed and chopped cloves garlic
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
For the Swordfish
3 to 4 swordfish steaks
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine lemon juice, garlic and seasonings and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in olive oil for a creamy sauce for the fish.
Try to get swordfish with the skin on if grilling outdoors; this will help keep the fish from drying out. Brush olive oil on the fish. Oil the grill or if cooking indoors, use a non-stick pan.
Over medium flame, cook the steaks for 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on their thickness. Salt and pepper after each side is cooked, not before. When the fish is done, it will be opaque and a knife will slide into it easily. If the fish has skin, remove it after cooking. Drizzle Salmoriglio over the fish; garnish with lemon wedges and flat-leaf parsley, if desired.