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Vermicelli alla Siracusana
Vermicelli alla Siracusana
 
 
Ingredients:
 
1 small eggplant (3/4 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 yellow peppers, halved, stemmed, and seeded
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 salted anchovies, rinsed, boned, gutted and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 lb plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into long, thin strips
12 basil leaves, torn
12 black olives, pitted and chopped
1 lb vermicelli pasta
1/4 lb coarsely grated Caciocavallo or Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:
 
Toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of the salt in a colander set over a bowl.
 
Set aside to purge its bitter juices for 30 minutes, then rinse and blot dry with paper towels.
 
Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.
 
Place the pepper halves, cut side down, on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
 
Broil until blackened, about 20 minutes.
 
Wrap in the foil; cool 15 minutes, unwrap, peel and cut into strips.
 
Heat the olive oil in a 14-inch skillet over a medium-high flame.
 
Add the purged eggplant and fry until softened and silky, about 10 minutes, stirring often.
 
Fold in the anchovies, capers and garlic and cook 3 minutes, still stirring.
 
Stir in the tomatoes, basil, olives, roasted pepper strips and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cover.
 
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes and adding a little water if the sauce dries out too much.
 
When you are ready to serve, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil.
 
Drop in the vermicelli and the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt and cook until the vermicelli are 'al dente', about 6 minutes.
 
Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
 
Toss the vermicelli with the hot eggplant sauce in a large serving bowl, dilute with as much of the reserved pasta cooking water as needed, sprinkle with the Caciocavallo, and serve immediately. Serves 4.
 
That's it!
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