Sunday, 27 November 2011

I miei fantastici involtini di pesce! ( My Fantastic fish Involtini! )

The dish I made today is traditionally Sicilian (well, I should say "was" as I changed it and created my own version!) Sicily is not only an island, but one of Italy's Regions (like Tuscany, Puglia, Abruzzo, etc.) Anyway! The fish used in the original Sicilian recipe is swordfish, which is widely fished along the coast of Calabria and Sicily. I used haddock, in my version, because I couldn't get swordfish, and also because I though it had the right firmness.
The original recipe consisted of a thin swordfish steaks, filled with pine nuts and sultanas, then rolled and baked in a tomato sauce with a top layer of breadcrumbs. I really couldn't eat fish with sultanas... not even if they forced me to... the thought of that is just too alien to me! In Bari we mostly descend from the Normans and the Svevian  and the Arab culinary influence so strong in Sicily kind of bypassed many of us baresi.

Images of the Med, as it "kisses" the Bari Coastline
and a man selling fish in a street market outside the city.

I made my Involtini di Pesce by devising my own filling, based on the one we use for cuttle fish and stuffed mussels, in Bari. And.... it was good! I saved my sultanas for next time I make a fruit cake!
Involtini di pesce
(Rolled fish fillets with
a yummy stuffing!)
Serves 4 as a starter and 2 as a main course
4 large  fish fillets
3 slices bread
1 egg yolk
chopped parsley
a couple of leaves raw spinach
a tiny handful cooked spinach
black pepper
some parmesan
fresh parsley
For the tomato sauce:
1 carton passata
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp olive oil
To serve: some crostini
(grilled or baked slices of

Before I started, I washed a few of my spinach leaves, then cooked and chopped them. I also chopped some parsley and a few uncooked spinach leaves (for texture). I put 1 and 1/2 slices of my bread in a bowl of water for a few seconds, then I squeezed all the water out. I placed this bread, with the cooked and the uncooked spinach, my  parsley followed by 1 egg yolk in a bowl. To this, I added salt, pepper and some grated Parmesan cheese. I mixed all these ingredients together to make my lovely stuffing.

my stuffing

Next, I made a very quick tomato and garlic sauce, by frying the garlic in 2 tbsp of hot oil, followed by my passata. I added salt and cooked for about twenty five minutes. Some basil always makes a tomato sauce a bit special, if you feel like adding some. I love it!

my sauce is bubbling up

While my sauce was cooking (about 20-25 minutes)  I placed my fillets on a clean surface, and then put some of the stuffing inside each, rolled up and secured with a cocktail stick.

fish fillets with stuffing

I placed the "involtini" in an old Italian earthenware quite shallow pan (I wanted to see if it could be used in the oven!) almost covered in tomato sauce, but not swimming in it! (if you have made too much sauce you can have it on pasta tomorrow!) Look at my sweet old terracotta pot!
Having made breadcrumbs with my remaining bread, I covered my dish with these and baked in a hot oven (200 C/400F/GAS 6 )until the top was golden and the sauce was bubbling up.

1) my involtini 2) with sauce 3) I added breadcrumbs and baked

Having checked that my fish was cooked, I was ready to serve. My "involtini" looked really appetizing served over fresh green beans which I previously cooked, drained and tossed in little olive oil and garlic. The crostini I baked with the fish went very well with it! Success! My creation was very good, indeed!

My fish was ready. I served it with beans
and lovely crostini

This is just one of my involtini!

If you would like to know how it tastes, you'll have to make it!
PS: Salmon not suitable for this recipe!


  1. I will taste it!


    ♥ Franka

  2. Ciao Anna, scusa se scrivo in italiano ma sono di fretta, sto un po' trascurando Blogger ultimamente :(
    ...a proposito di uvetta..noi qui a Venezia abbiamo le "sarde in saor", sardine fritte adagiate su un letto di cipolla, uvetta e pinoli...bleurgh!!! :D
    Hai proprio ragione..l'uvetta usala soltanto per i dolci!!!
    Ti auguro una buona settimana!
    Michela x

  3. Per una volta siamo d'accordo, allora! Michela, ti diro` la verita': io le sarde non le mangerei mai! Con l'uvetta poi... ammazzate che passion killer!

    Buona notte. Io non sto bene da due giorni, quindi vado a dormire!

    CIAO, Michela!


  4. Hi Franka! Glad you liked my recipe, I hope you really try it...



  5. I always feel hungry after reading your posts, mind you I suppose it is time to go and get some supper, not these tonight though, maybe another time. Thanks Anna for your support with my new projects.

  6. Anna! How could he NOT love YOU! I know that you love the Italian half - it is handsome I am sure! I know what you mean about Michael Bublé - it is very commercial. Here he never appears on TV but of course one recognizes his voice as it resembles the one of Frank Sinatra so much. The CD is nice - I will present it to my sister in law (the one with the chalet) we are going to meet her and my brother next Saturday (I am sure I can take some picture of her house which must be very Christmassy by now). You are lovely Anna! Sleep well! Christa By the way: I had to postpone the fish till tomorrow - but tomorrow we will have it!

  7. ciao Anna,io non sono mai stata in Inghilterra e ultimamente preferisco fare le vacanze in Italia, ma perchè alla fine si, vedi dei bei posti ma te ne torni morta di fame perchè nessuno cucina come noi, ma visto che ci sei tu se proprio verrò inizierò o finirò la mia visita da te. Anche io sono d'accordo che l'uvetta va nei dolci ma in Sicilia la mettono dappertutto. Saluti Patty

  8. Lindy, it's always a pleasure to hear from you and to look at your blogs. I just love the way you love Italy and how you appear to have settled into the rhythm of nature in a Mediterranean Country. It makes me happy.

    I enjoy reading your blogs and ... Those olives... are just beautiful! And... your very own olive oil! WOW!



  9. Ciao Patty!L'Inghilterra e` veramente straordinariamente bella e sono sicura che ti piacerebbe. E non parlo di Londra (che e` comunque bellissima!) ma della "vera" Inghilterra, con le sue antiche abitazioni, i piccoli villaggi e paesini tanto caratteristici e la gente, veramente tanto brava! E dovresti vedere la "materia prima" per preparare piatti deliziosi!

    Io vivo vicino a Norwich, che e` una bella citta` storica, ma anche un buon posto per fare MOLTO shopping! Abbiamo di tutto: Mango, Zara, Armani, Chanel, insomma... tutto quanto!

    Ma come, Patty, mangi solo roba italiana? Guarda, posso dirti che se non mangio pasta per 3 giorni mi viene un senso d'ansia e, in fondo so che non esiste nulla di piu` buono che un buon piatto di pasta. Pero`... io mangio di tutto e sono molto interessata ad assaggiare cibo di tutte le etnicita`. Mi piace e sono tanto curiosa di assaggiare cose nuove. Una volta ho chiesto a un'amica africana di farmi assaggiare dei piatti tipici del Sudan. Che buoni!

    Patty, io so cucinare anche indiano, cinese, spagnolo, piatti dell'Europa dell'Est, e di cucina francese, ed altro, inclusa tutta la cucina britannica, che non e` male! Ultimamente ho anche acquisito una TAGINE (una pentola speciale di terracotta) perche` mi piacciono tanto i sapori del Nordafrica (evito anche in questo caso uvetta a frutta secca!)

    Noi italiani siamo molto fortunati, comunque, in quanto abbiamo forse una delle cucine piu` varie del mondo, quindi potremmo mangiare un piatto diverso ogni giorno dell'anno. Non credi che sia ridicolo il pensiero che all'estero pensano che noi italiani mangiamo solo lasagne, spaghetti, pizza e pasta e fagioli? E` una visione molto limitata! Mi vien da ridere a pensarci!

    Comunque, spero che sia arrivata alla fine del mio romanzo!



  10. Hello Christa! I do love your skates! They are so beautiful!

    I have listened to Michael Buble`. I love his voice, it is reminiscent of Frank Sinatra, my guilty pleasure. My husband has bought me lots of his CDs and I love every single song. I LOVE Jazz, too! It makes me dream!

    The other day I was teaching an Italian workshop and I was actually singing (as I do) to my students, as they worked: "My funny Valentine... sweet comic Valentine... you make me smile with my heart..." (Sinatra song!) and someone walked in to inspect me! Surprise! "Did you like my song, inspector?" I sing all the time, Christa! You are not a real Italian, unless you always have music in your "head!

    Anyway... I am off to buy that CD! And you try my recipe. It's very delicate and yummy!



  11. Ciao Anna,
    It is so so tempting reading and seeing the fotos of your wonderful dishes.. i love this fish dish.. i will certainly try it. I like the way you used the haddock.. i will more likely use cape cod ..
    we too eat sword fish here..both black and silver..but i dont like the bones.
    You make your food with love, and must have so enjoyed standing next to your mother Rosa and listning to her tell you about her secret recipies..and her stories of italy.
    Its such a lovely tantalizing blog..
    looking forward to more..
    best wishes

  12. Hi Val!

    I am glad you commented and, by the way: thank you very much for the compliments. I enjoy my blog and I wish I had more time to dedicate to it, as I love food and talking about my Country.

    Val, I need to let you know that I tried posting comments on your blog, but, for some reason, my comments always come back, in an email (at my email address) with a message telling me that the comment could not be delivered. So, please don't think I don't wish to communicate with you. Maybe you should look at your settings (?)

    Your post on your Christmas memories is very sweet. I'll try again, I think, and we'll see what happens!



  13. Hello Anna

    As I sip my 2nd cappucino of the morning, I read your mouth-watering Involtini di pesce. This I will make. We eat fish almost daily and here in Florida I can find delicious varieties, such a grouper, which is "out of this world" in flavour.

    Zuppa de Pesce is one of my all time favourites!
    Would love your version.

    My love
    Helen xx

  14. Dear Helen,

    I always love your comments! I love fish, too. I come from a city by the sea, where fish represents a constant in the diet. I make Zupppa di Pesce in Italy, especially in Puglia (fish in Campania is not as plentiful and not as good. The Adriatic, in Puglia, is very clean, not too deep and rich in fragrant seaweed) In Puglia I can buy all the fish needed for a Zuppa di Pesce and I know I'm buying fish which comes from the cleanest sea in Europe!

    Fish in Northern Europe is different from the fish in the Med and has little flavour. Mussels and oysters, though, here in UK, are the best in the World! So... if I can get my hands on some baby octopi, and a few more ingredients, and I believe I can, I will make a Zuppa di Pesce (my husband adores my Zuppa di Pesce!) and post it, Helen, but you must promise to make it!

    Love to you, too, Helen!


  15. very nice Anna, I like the man selling fish.

  16. Valery,

    You must come to Modugno and Bari. You would take so many lovely photos! The fish stall was, in fact, in Modugno. That market is so wonderful, you want to buy everything, and the people are really friendly!

    Try this recipe, Valery. I think you would like it!

    Con affetto


  17. Si, si Anna! You would pinch the berries in your neighbor's garden! Why not if they are nice and beautiful? E si, Anna! We have such nice parks in Switzerland. I am glad you like my photos! Today it rained here in Berne. We had no rain here for over a month. Nature is very dry. I hope the raindrops will soon turn into snowflakes. I remember that last year at this time we were shoveling snow in front of the house! xxx Christa

  18. Christa...

    I just thought that Switzerland was all like the places in "Heidi". You know: cows, green pastures, bells, chocolate and cheese with big holes in it (and very bice, too!)... and watches!

    But there you are, showing me pictures of a fantastic city, with buildings to die for, beautiful parks and... what can I say? Thank you!

    Do you really, really think I would pinch my neighbour's berries? Now... tell me... who told you?