A Sicilian feast with a twist

Neil Perry's Sicilian feast with a modern dessert is perfect feasting fare.

VEAL INVOLTINI WITH HERBED ORZO AND ROAST TOMATO AND OREGANO SAUCE

1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino

1 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs

1 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

11/2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

1 heaped tbsp dried currants, soaked in warm water 1 hour, then drained

pinch fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

pinch sea salt

pinch freshly ground white pepper

4 x 150g veal escalopes

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 180°C. In a bowl, stir together the pecorino, breadcrumbs, parsley, pine nuts, drained currants, rosemary and seasoning until well mixed.

Lay the pieces of veal out on a bench and spread breadcrumb mixture all over each piece, spreading it out thinly and evenly. Roll each piece up tightly, starting from a short side, and secure with toothpicks.

Heat olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and cook involtini in batches until sealed all over. Remove from heat, place on a lined baking tray in the oven for an extra 3-5 minutes until cooked. Rest in a warm place. Once the involtini has rested, remove and discard toothpicks.

Herbed orzo

2 cups orzo

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 large basil leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled

finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon, no pith

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Cook the orzo in a pot of boiling salted water, stirring frequently until al dente.

Meanwhile blend olive oil, basil leaves, garlic and lemon rind. Once orzo is cooked, drain well and toss through the herbed oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast tomato and oregano sauce (make this ahead of time)

20 medium, very ripe, vine-ripened tomatoes

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 bunch oregano, leaves picked, chopped

4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked, chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, extra

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, extra

1 tsp caster sugar

Preheat oven to 150°C.

Remove cores and lightly score bases of tomatoes using a small, sharp knife.

Place tomatoes in large baking dish, base side up, and drizzle with olive oil, vinegar, oregano, thyme and a good dose of salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes, uncovered, for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tomatoes are very soft and skin is peeling away. Cool slightly, and remove and discard the skins from tomatoes.

Place peeled tomatoes with pan juices in medium heavy-based pan. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, over medium heat for about 1 hour. Stir in extra herbs and sugar. Simmer a further 30 minutes until sauce is reduced and slightly thickened. Check seasoning.

To serve, divide the involtini between 4 plates or large pasta-style bowls, and top each involtini with the tomato and oregano sauce.

TIRAMISU

300g caster sugar

90ml water

3 large egg whites

750g mascarpone

160ml espresso coffee

50ml rum

200ml marsala

24 Italian sponge finger biscuits

pinch Dutch cocoa

20g quality dark chocolate, finely grated

Serves 12-16

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then boil without stirring for 2-3 minutes until syrup has reached 112°C on a sugar thermometer.

Whisk egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until foamy, then, with motor running, gradually pour in sugar syrup and beat until mixture becomes thick and glossy.

Using a hand whisk, whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the mascarpone to loosen, then whisk in remaining egg whites until combined.

Combine the coffee, rum and marsala, then dip biscuits in mixture, turning to coat both sides.

Place a layer of biscuits over the base of a 24cm square tin, approximately 4cm deep. Spread with half the mascarpone mixture, sift half the Dutch cocoa over and scatter with half the grated chocolate. Top with another layer of dipped biscuits, then remaining mascarpone and scatter with remaining sifted cocoa and grated chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or until firm.

To serve, use a large spoon to scoop out portions, and place into a white bowl.

HOT TIPS

• I also love the involtini served with soft polenta - plenty of butter in the polenta creates a beautiful creamy texture, and the addition of simple blanched green beans would be perfection.

• Thin slices of swordfish can be used instead of the veal - a cracker of a dish.

• The roast tomato sauce can be tossed through any pasta and finished with grated percorino, or used in a lasagne.

• For something a little different, you can prepare the tiramisu in individual coffee cups or martini glasses.

• Use a vegetable peeler to achieve long curls of chocolate for a garnish on top.

SOMETHING TO DRINK

Fiano McLaren Vale vineyard Coriole has championed the use of Italian grape varieties for some time, the fruits of their labour evident in this fragrant fiano ($25). All citrus fruit and green herb in flavour, this has texture and nerve, which will underscore the orzo but not clash with the tomato sauce.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins

The story A Sicilian feast with a twist first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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