Home Food DigiBites: Orinda’s Chef Charlie Returns From Sicily – With A New Recipe

DigiBites: Orinda’s Chef Charlie Returns From Sicily – With A New Recipe

Photo: Epicurean Exchange

Chef Charlie is back!  Epicurean Exchange Culinary Travel has completed our spring 2019 travel season to New Orleans; two weeks in Tuscany, and Sicily and Puglia in Southern Italy. Our happy travelers have all returned home with great memories of our time together!

Our last week was in Sicily – our first and now one of our best!  We toured the island from Palermo to Mt. Etna to Catania (and everywhere in between)!  We cooked, ate, drank, and enjoyed the experience from one end of the island to the other (the size of Massachusetts!) Not surprisingly, most of the food we enjoyed was from the sea – most notably sardines and anchovies, but also tuna. This recipe is similar to one we prepared in Siracusa and the Fennel-Tomato Sauce was very common, as wild fennel is growing everywhere! Suggest you serve these with a fresh spaghetti pasta and grilled bread!

Birthdays are best when celebrated al fresco

We will be sharing more experiences and recipes from all our destinations in the coming weeks in our Orinda kitchen. If you would like to take part in any of our classes, feel free to check our schedule of classes at this link: 
Sicilian-Style Tuna Meatballs with Tomato-Fennel Sauce
1 pound yellowfin tuna cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp – tails off
1/2 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup breadcrumbs, or more if necessary
2 eggs
1 cup onion finely minced
1/2 cup Italian parsley chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil for frying
Flour for dusting

•  Working in three batches; place the tuna, shrimp, pine nuts, parsley and onions in a food processor and pulse about 8 to 10 times to combine, but not puréed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the eggs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and lemon zest. Gently mix with your hands to combine well. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs; if too dry, a bit of water. The meatballs should hold together easily once formed.

•  To portion the meatballs, form with your hands into golfball-sized balls, and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. You should get about 20 to 25 meat balls, depending on the size.  Dust the meatballs with the flour in a shallow dish, then place them back on the sheet pan.

•  Heat 1/2-inch canola oil in a frying pan until it is 350˚F. Fry 6 to 8 meatballs at a time until browned on each side and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Place on a paper towel lined sheet pan to drain off any excess oil.

•  Heat the tomato sauce in a separate pan and stew the meatballs for about 10 minutes to finish and warm through.  Serve with pasta and tomato sauce.

Tomato – Fennel Sauce

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fennel, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 Pernod
1-quart prepared marinara sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon mint
Parmesan cheese for garnish

•  In olive oil, sauté the fennel, onion and garlic until soft. Add the Pernod, tomato sauce, honey and mint. Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve.

Serves 6

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  1. Are you guys doing any work with meat substitutes? We’re trying to come up with recipes that would work with alternatives – any ideas?

    • For what it is worth I would be interested in this approach to cooking – New Cooking? We’ve introduced plant-based substitutes into our diets and the kids haven’t rioted. Some options would be nice maybe for lasagna or something relatively simple??

  2. I can almost smell it. Fennel is abundant in Italy and it tastes great when you use it correctly. We use a lot of fresh garden herbs when we can…..

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