3 Recipes from my March newsletter

March recipesFish Parcels
(Pesce in cartoccio)

This is an easy way to cook fish and I love all the many variations of this recipe. I usually make it with fillets of John Dory. In Italy this fish is called “San Pietro”. The fish has two marks, one on either side, like thumb prints, and legend has it that these are the marks left by St. Peter’s fingers, when he took pity on the fish he had caught, and threw it back into the sea.

6 fish fillets

2 T fresh parsley, chopped

3 T lemon juice

6 T extra virgin olive oil

salt

black pepper

Heat the oven to 180 C. Cut 6 large rectangles of cooking parchment or kitchen foil. Brush the paper with oil and arrange the washed and dried fillet on top. Season with a little salt and pepper then scatter on the parsley, fennel seeds, and lemon juice, and dribble a little oil over the top. Fold in the edges to make a good seal. Prepare all the fillets in the same way. If using parchment brush the outside with water before putting all the packets on a baking tray into the oven. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve each person with a packet which is then slashed open with a pointed, serrated knife.

Eggplant Rolls
(Involtini di melanzane)

Although traditionally the eggplant slices are fried, they can be grilled to make a lighter starter, or the quantities increased to make a vegetarian main dish. Like most eggplant recipes this comes from the south of Italy.

500 g long eggplants

250 g fresh mozzarella cheese

fresh basil leaves

olive oil for frying

2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and black pepper

1 cup freshly-made tomato sauce

Cut off the rounded tip of the eggplants then cut them into thin slices, lengthwise, discarding the end, rounded slices which will not roll. Sprinkle the slices with coarse salt and leave for 30 minutes  ‘purge’ their bitter juices. Cut the mozzarella into thick slices, and divide each slice into batons, allowing one baton for each eggplant slice. Rinse the salt off the eggplant and dry each slice very thoroughly. Heat the oil and fry the slices in batches until they are golden brown on each side. Allow the excess oil to drain off on kitchen paper. Lightly oil an oven-proof serving dish that will contain all the rolls in one layer. Roll each eggplant slice round a piece of mozzarella and a basil leaf, and arrange seam side down in the oven dish. Spoon over a little tomato sauce, but do not mask the individual rolls completely. Sprinkle on a little Parmesan and bake for 15 minutes in a180 C. pre-heated oven.

Tuna in tomato sauce
(Ragu’ di tonno)

In Italy fresh tuna is often cooked in a sauce, and Sicily has many great tuna recipes. This is one of my favorites, and the traditional cut is from the tail, known in Italian as “tarantula”. This version is intended as a main course, but the sauce can be used with pasta as a first course if desired. It makes a change from the usual ‘seared’, rare tuna.

1 piece of tuna, weighing 2lbs

1 large onion

2 cups fresh tomato sauce

fresh mint

flour

3 T olive oil

salt & black pepper

Wash and dry the mint leaves then salt and pepper them. With a sharp pointed knife make 10 deep incisions in the tuna and fill with a mint leaf, pushed down below the surface. Lightly flour the fish and fry lightly in half the olive oil until golden brown on all sides. Heat the rest of the oil and gently cook the onions until soft. Combine the onions and the seasoned tuna, and then pour on the tomato sauce. Cover and simmer until the fish is cooked, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if necessary. Serve hot with the sauce.

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