Sicilian Heritage and Hatha Yoga Retreat

Another wonderful retreat last weekend, the Sicilian Heritage and Hatha Yoga Retreat, was held at Ocean Shores, Washington.  We hosted a fabulous group and offered homemade Sicilian food.  I was inspired from my recent trip to Sicily.  Our yoga weekend at the coast was one filled with great group dynamics,  deep yoga sessions, enlightening conversations, and an all round fun time!

The weekend started with a rain and wind storm, with gusts up to 60 miles per hour, and ended with sunshine and gorgeous late October weather.  Enjoy the photos below.  RECIPES follow at the end of this blog!

Sunny late October day after big rain and wind storm...

Sunny late October day after big rain and wind storm…

Backyard Deer

Our backyard Deer

Peggie and Fran

Peggie and Fran

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

The jetty at Ocean Shores

The jetty at Ocean Shores

Jetty in Sepia

Jetty in Sepia




Mineschia  (Sicilian Minestrone)

2-5  tablespoon olive oil

1 cup tomatoes, diced

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup zucchini, diced (I didn’t use this)

1 cup eggplant, diced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Saute the above ingredients in oil for 10 minutes.

6-10 cups water  (I go by the consistency and try not to make this too watery)

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 tsp. oregano

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add the above and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes

Add 1/2 cup cooked beans  (canned beans ok) Cannelloni is what I used

1/2 cup potato, peeled and diced

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Add the above three ingredients and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potato is cooked


Caponata di Melanzane (Eggplant Caponata)  from Grotte, Sicily

2 lbs. eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes


1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup tomato paste, thinned with 1/2 cup water

1 stalk celery, strings removed and coarsely chopped

3 carrots, diced very small

1 cup green olives (more if you like olives), pitted and cut into thirds

4 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained  (more if you love capers)

two tablespoons of golden currants

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

black pepper

oil, for frying

Put the eggplant cubes in a colander and salt them.  Let them stand for 1 hour to drain while you prepare the other ingredients.

Saute the onions in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes, until just golden.  Add the sauce and thinned tomato paste.  Simmer, uncovered, until thickened 5-8 minutes.  Add the celery, carrots, olives, capers, and sugar.  Stir in the vinegar and salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, then transfer the sauce to a large blow and cool.

Heat 1-inch oil in a large saute pan. Wipe the eggplant pieces dry and fry them in batches, one batch at a time, until golden brown.  Drain well on paper towels.

Add the eggplant to the sauce and mix well. Taste for seasoning, then let cool.  Serve at room temperature.  This recipe makes 6 cups of caponata to be used as an appetizer to spread over bread.

Note from Fran  (I always prepare the eggplant one day ahead of time as this is the most time consuming part of making the dish.  And I always double this recipe.  Contrary to what the cooking school in Modica said, I find that the caponata freezes well.)

Frittata with Spinach (or Chard) and Roasted Red Peppers  

1 bunch spinach  (I used chard and kale combined)

1 large leek, chopped  (equals about 1 cup)

1 cup mushrooms

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp marjoram

1 tsp salt

2 large roasted red peppers  (equals about 1/2 cup)

6 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated fontina cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Wash spinach (or chard), remove stalks and cut into ribbons.  In large pan, saute leeks and chopped mushrooms in oil and butter over medium heat until soft.  Add spinach (or chard), herbs and salt.  Saute about 7 more minutes until spinach is well cooked.  Remove from heat, stir in peppers and cool.

In large bowl, beat eggs with milk and add bread crumbs, herbs and  and cheese.  Stir in spinach (chard) mixture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in buttered 9″x9″ pan for 40 minutes, until center is firm and crust is golden.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!!

Sformato di Spinaci (Spinach Souffle)

9 lbs fresh spinach (I used chard)

1 finely grated parmesan

1 cup fontina, grated

salt and black pepper

5 eggs

3 tablespoons butter (I used olive oil)

Wash spinach, steam until tender, 8-10 minutes, Drain and puree in a food processor and measure out 6 cups.

Mix spinach with the cheeses and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the eggs.

Preheat oven to 300 F. Thickly butter (or oil) a 6-cup ring mold or a 10-inch loaf pan.

Fill the mold or pan with the spinach mixture and tap on the counter to make it settle. Smooth the top. Dot with butter (optional), or drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the sformato from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes. Then unmold it onto a serving platter.

The sformato could be covered with melted cheese.

You can also add pine nuts or peas to the mixture.

Pesto di Pistacchio

1 ½ cup packed basil

1 cup olive oil

1 cup dry-roasted or regular shelled pistachios

½ cup Italian parsley

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan

1 tsp lemon zest

3 cloves garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Process basil, oil, pistachios, parsley, Parmesan, zest, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper.

Semolina Cake (recipe from Marilyn Alterman)

10 T sweet butter, soft

1 C sugar

2 eggs

zest of 3 lemons (3T)

1 C sour cream or yogurt

1 ½ t vanilla

1 C flour

3/8 C semolina flour

½ t salt

1 ½ t baking soda

For the syrup:

½ C fresh lemon juice

¼ C orange juice

½ C sugar

Combine the three syrup ingredients and bring to a boil.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9 inch spring-form pan.

Whip butter with sugar, zest and vanilla. Mix in eggs. Sift

Dry ingredients. Add them to the butter mixture, alternating

with sour cream/yogurt. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until set,

approximately 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out with

a few crumbs.

While the cake is baking, prepare syrup. Prick cake all over the

top with a toothpick. Pour hot syrup over hot cake, slowly,

until it is all absorbed. Cool before serving.

Cranberry Scones:

makes 8 large scones

2/3 cup non fat yogurt

1 egg

3 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut up in small pieces

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Heat oven to 375 F.

Mix together yogurt and egg using a fork.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the pieces of butter using a pastry blender or using your fingers until mixture looks like fine granules.

Add cranberries, sugar and orange peel.

Add the yogurt mixture.

Stir with a fork until a soft dough forms.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and give 5-6 kneads, just until well mixed.   Divide into 8 balls and form into 8 wedges.  Place onto un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until medium brown.



One Response to “Sicilian Heritage and Hatha Yoga Retreat”

  1. kay Says:

    goody goody! yummy Fran food recipes! thanks.


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