For one of our wedding gifts, some friends of ours put together a picnic basket filled with all sorts of Italian goodies that were just waiting to be transformed into culinary delights. But one homemade item stood out from the rest. The recipe comes from the region of Ragusa in the southwestern part of Sicily. In Italian it is called capuliato (cah-pool-yah-to) or tomatoes that are sun-dried with olive oil and then finely diced into tiny nuggets of pure tomato heaven. Capuliato can be made a number of ways: dried with basil or hot red pepper flakes. My friend Rosita made them only with olive oil, as to make them kid-friendly and here is the recipe for them:
The tomatoes are peeled, sliced and seeded. When they are left to dry in the sun, they are dried along with the addition of olive oil. This helps to naturally keep the tomatoes moist. After 3/4 days they are then finely diced or when made in large quantities they are put through a meat grinder.
To understand a part of Turin‘s history and culture, one must know that back in the 50s and 60s there was a huge influx of “immigrants” that arrived in Turin from Sicily, my husband’s family included. In fact, Sicilians arrived in Turin with the hope of finding work and a better way of life. Denis was born in Turin and remembers very well when he invited some of his friends from school over for dinner one night. His mom made pasta alla Norma, a typical Sicilian dish from Catania with fried eggplant, tomato sauce and ricotta salata, or salted ricotta. To his mom’s surprise Denis’ friends who were from Turin had never even heard of the dish!
If you love the flavor of sun-dried tomatoes as much as I do, here’s a recipe for spaghetti col capuliato. If you would like to read the recipe in Italian, click on Rosita’s blog: Questo mondo è una zuppa.Ingredients: Serves 2 150 g. Spaghetti, in my case I used linguine
2 tbsp. Capuliato 1 Clove garlic, peeled and minced Fresh Italian parsley, finely minced, to taste Extra-virgin olive oil Bread crumbs, homemade Pecorino cheese, freshly grated Procedure: First, prepare the bread crumbs. I used stale whole-wheat bread along with the crust and placed it into a food processor. This made approximately 3/4 cup of bread crumbs. Then I gently heated a pan with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and added the bread crumbs along with sea salt, freshly grounded black pepper and dried oregano; all to taste. Stir the crumbs constantly until toasted. Set aside. Prepare the spaghetti in properly salted water but finish the cooking process 2 minutes before the pasta is done. Let sit in the pasta water and begin preparing the sauce. In another sauté pan gently cook the garlic and parsley until you can smell the aroma from the garlic but without browning it. This takes only a minute. Turn the burner off and add the capuliato. Add a ladle of the pasta water to finish the sauce and then add the drained spaghetti and bread crumbs. Combine well until most of the liquid of the sauce is absorbed into the pasta. Should the pasta become too dry, add additional olive oil. Optional: Pepperoncini flakes to taste. Garnish each plate with freshly grated pecorino to taste and serve. Tip: Resist the urge to add more of the capuliato, otherwise the delicate balance of the dish will be overpowered by them. I’ve used capuliato to garnish other pasta dishes where I am looking for an extra hint of tomato flavor or to garnish an assortment of fresh cheeses accompanied with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.