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Sicilian anchovies in lettuce (masculine 'na lattuga)

Italy - 29 Mar 13

Anchovy recipes have arrived from around the world for “Small Bite Big Taste” – a competition held as part of the Slow Fish event to promote anchovies as a sustainable choice and campaign to end their overfishing for animal feed.

We asked for recipes that can be served as a finger-food snack or appetizer, from any cuisine, be traditional or modern in their roots and from home or professional kitchens. A shortlist of recipes will be chosen to be served in the Alliance Bistrot area at the Slow Fish event in Genoa from May 9-12.

The following recipe was sent to us from Sicily. It is usually prepared using the Magghia Masculina anchovy (although any type will do), a species that is still fished traditionally in the Gulf of Catania after nearly becoming extinct, and is now protected by a Slow Food Presidium. The dish is commonly found in the island’s hinterland and was typically made from preserved anchovies, but today fresh fish are preferred.

Sicilian anchovies in lettuce (masculine 'na lattuga)

Serves 10 as a starter


20 lettuce leaves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 salted anchovy
2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and squashed
300 grams of breadcrumbs
50 g (6 tbsp) capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
50 grams of almonds, toasted and chopped lengthways
50 grams of grated pecorino cheese
rind of 1 untreated lemon, grated
salt and pepper
40 fresh anchovies, cleaned and boned

Briefly drop the lettuce leaves into boiling water, removing them when they have softened but still retain some crunch. Drain and leave to dry on kitchen towel.

Heat the olive oil and the salted anchovy in a large skillet over a very low flame, letting the anchovy melt into the oil before adding the garlic, breadcrumbs, almonds and capers. Stir continuously until uniformly browned.

Remove from heat. Discard the garlic and add the pecorino and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now get the lettuce leaves and place two anchovies topped with a large spoon of the prepared mix in the centre of each.
Fold in the sides of the leaves to create a parcel, and place them tightly together in a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 C

Serve warm.

Thank you to Aldo Bacciulli from Catania for sending us this recipe.

Send your entries to by April 1.

Entrants please ensure that you include:

- A name for your recipe

- A full list of ingredients with measures for 10 people (based on one ‘bite-sized’ portion each).

- Recipe instructions in clear steps, including any cooking temperatures and times.

- The source of the anchovy you use (where it was fished) if possible

- A story about your recipe/anchovy and its connection to your region if you wish.

Photo: Paolo A. Montanaro



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