A month or two ago we had family visiting and took a drive to Lago di Trasimeno where we took a boat to Isola Maggiore, one of the larger islands in Lago do Trasimeno. See more about Isola Maggiore below. It was a beautiful day to be out walking in the fresh air but to be honest there wasn’t a lot on Isola Maggiore to see so we found a nice restaurant with outdoor seating and spent a relaxing couple of hours dining on the lake’s fresh seafood. One dish that I had to start my meal that I really enjoyed was a gnocchi dish with a tomato based white fish sauce. The fish used was persico, or fresh water lake perch and added a delicate yet delicious flavor to the sauce. I have recreated a similar sauce in this recipe, although I used one of the traditional pastas of Umbria called stringozzi in place of the gnocchi, and eliminated the cream which had been added to the sauce. This sauce would be great on just about any type of pasta, polenta or gnocchi.
About Isola Maggiore ~ Isola Maggiore is a tiny fishing village with houses dating back to the 14th and the 16th centuries still standing on the island, as well as the Guglielmi castle (Villa Isabella), built in 1885. Recently, it has been transformed into an environmental teaching laboratory. Unfortunately, the villa is seriously neglected and is no longer accessible. It was however built on the site previously occupied by the 1328 convent and the church of St Francis.
It is believed that St Francis spent his 1211 Lent on the island, sleeping on a rock that is now kept in the chapel that stands near his statue, on the spot where he landed. The paintings that once adorned the church of St Francis now hang in the 12th century Romanesque Gothic church of San Salvatore in the village. Another church, San Michele Arcangelo, stands on at the top of the hill. It is from the 12th century and has fine Umbrian school paintings from the late 13th century to the 15th century.
Many older women on the island specialize in making Irish lace and in fact there is a lace museum there which shares the island’s lace making history. The technique of creating this Irish style was introduced in 1904 by the Marchesa Elena Guglielmi, when she imported an Irish housekeeper to the island, and this skill has been passed down through the island’s women ever since. In fact, late in the afternoon many older women will sit on the main walking streets and work on their lace projects. If you stop to admire their work, they will gladly show you other samples that you can purchase. We bought two beautiful pieces of handmade lace that I will have framed for my bedroom walls.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 1 (28 Ounce) Can Imported Italian Tomatoes
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
- 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 3/4 Pound White Fish (Such As Perch or Tilapia) Cut Into 2 Inch Chunks
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1 Pound Pasta Of Choice
- Additional Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
- Heat the oil and butter in a heavy saucepan and cook the onion until it is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two, then add the tomatoes and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the fish and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or until the fish breaks up in the sauce.
- Cook the pasta until it is al dente, drain and toss with half the sauce.
- Divide into individual pasta bowls and add a scoop of the sauce on top, and sprinkle each dish with a little chopped parsley.
- Serve immediately.
Note: If adding the cream, add it in the last five minutes of cooking.