The cuisine of Sicily is a reflection of not just the bounty of the Mediterranean but of the thousands of years of history of the Island. Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Moor, Norman, Catalan, Spaniard – all the great powers of antiquity have left their mark in the culture, language, people and cuisine. Although Sicily shares much in common with Italian cuisine, the food also has been greatly influenced by Greek, Spanish French and Arab influences.
Tuna with Sweet and Sour Onions (Tonno Scottato con Cipolle agridolce)
Today’s dish – Sicilian Style Tuna with Sweet and Sour Onions (Tonno Scottato con Cipolle agridolce) is an almost quintessential Sicilian dish. Fresh Tuna from the sea, Lentils of the near east scented with lemon and cinnamon, and the sweet and sour onions sweetened with honey and raisins then finished with Spanish Sherry Vinegar.
1 pound Tuna Steak 1-inch thick, cut into 3 or 4
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbl Olive Oil
2 Onions Julienne
1 Tbl Sherry Vinegar
1 tsp Honey
4 sun dried tomatoes, finely diced
2 Tbl raisins or currants
1 Tbl Mint Leaves
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup Water
2 cups Cooked French Lentils
½ tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
1. Cook lentils. Season with lemon, cinnamon, salt and pepper and a liberal amount of olive oil.
2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet (such as cast iron), combine the onion with a little olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat, covered, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup water.
3. Add the add honey, vinegar, sun dried tomatoes and currants, stirring often as the liquid evaporates and the onions begin to caramelize. Transfer to a bowl toss with mint.
4. Season tuna on both sides with salt and pepper.
5. Clean the skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and raise the heat to medium. Sear the tuna until well browned.
6. Serve with lentils, and sweet and sour onions.
There is a lot going with this dish. A wine of substance is needed but care must be taken not to overwhelm the Tuna. A Sicilian Nero D’avola would have the right balance of minerality, fruit and acid. One in particular comes to mind.
2012 Tasca D’Almerita Regaleali Nero d’Avola Siclia $12.99
One of the first Nero D’Avolas introduce to the American Market, “Lots of black cherry and stone character on the nose. Full body, dried fruit and minerally undertone. Balanced and delicious. 10/13/14 – 90 points James Suckling
For more than half a century, the Tasca d’Almeritas have been among Sicily’s greatest ambassadors, one of a handful of aristocratic families who have thrived in wine. Since the 1800’s the families rural base has been Regaleali, today a 1200 acre estate in the heart of Sicily. After World War II Count Giuseppe Tasca d’Amerita was one of the few to focus on quality winemaking.