Sicilian Seafood Cooking

November 7, 2011

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins of the blog All Things Sicilian and More has just published a huge, beautiful tome called Sicilian Seafood Cooking. Congratulations, Marisa. Complimenti!

Sicilian Seafood Cooking by Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Photo credit Bob Evans

Marisa has generously allowed me to share one of her recipes with you: Swordfish with Pasta and Mint. Note that there are several alternatives for the swordfish in this recipe (see below); I substituted scallops.

Pasta with Swordfish and Mint from Sicilian Seafood Cooking

Pasta with Swordfish and Mint, photo credit Graeme Gillies


¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

400g (14oz) fish, in 4cm (1½in) pieces

500g (17½oz) rigatoni or other short ribbed, tubular pasta

3 cloves garlic, chopped

½ cup white wine

10–15 mint leaves

300g (10½oz) formaggio fresco, diced (or fresh pecorino, mozzarella or bocconcini)

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mint is not a common herb in the rest of Italy and generally most unexpected in a pasta dish anywhere but Sicily. When I first ate a version of this in Sicily in the 1980s, it was made with pesce spada (swordfish). Since then I have cooked it many times using sustainable fish (pesce sostenibile). It’s particularly good with dense-textured fish. I use albacore tuna, mackerel, rockling or flathead. Shellfish also enhances the sweetness.


Heat the olive oil, add the fish and lightly seal it. Cook the pasta. Add the garlic, wine, 4–5 mint leaves and seasoning to the fish. Cover and cook gently until the fish is ready. Combine the pasta, fish, cheese and mint leaves (large leaves cut into smaller pieces) and serve.



*Add a few slices of zucchini lightly fried in extra virgin olive oil (cooked separately and added at the end). Add any juices from the zucchini.

*Add pistachio nuts to complement the sweet taste and the green of the mint and zucchini.


Buon appetito!!


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12 comments to Sicilian Seafood Cooking

  • Rita Price

    Hello Jann
    I’m one of the lucky ones to have purchased this book already and it is truly magnificent (and not just because my father and Marisa’s father were from Ragusa!). I’ve been enjoying reading about the origins of dishes and discovering lots of new vegetable and pasta recipes too – not only seafood ones.

    • Jann

      Thanks for your comment, Rita. Yes, I love the stories in the book– and the fact that Marisa includes variations on the recipes.

  • “`this sounds fabulous.

    I love the idea of pasta w/ Mint. X

    • Jann

      Kind of a girlie version of pasta, don’t you think? Compare it to your father’s very hearty, masculine pasta sauce!

  • Jann, what an elegant yet simple recipe! You’ll be happy to know I’ve taken note and it is now safely tucked in my recipe journal! I shall see what to substitute for sword fish but I was thinking perhaps shrimp? What do you think?

    • Jann

      Yup, Bella, I think shrimp could be interesting. Shrimp with mint. Not a combination I’ve ever had, but then I never had scallops and mint before–and it was great!

  • Sam

    After seeing that great photo of this dish, I have completely lost my appetite for the lunch I was preparing. Thanks, I guess.

  • I think I’ll try this just for the mint…uncommon indeed.

    • Jann

      Must be North African influence on Sicily… don’t you think, Dana? Thanks for commenting & buon appetito!

  • Hi Jann, Ok, this one definitely has to be tried this winter in Sicily! It sounds absolutely mouthwatering! 🙂

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