Traditional dishes from the cook’s family kitchen

La cucina famiglia at Fishermen’s Forum

Posted:  Sunday, March 4, 2018 - 6:30pm

ROCKPORT – Three nostalgic dishes using seafood were prepared on Saturday, March 3, at the Fishermen's Forum at the Samoset Resort by chef Jim Leverso. The demonstration was titled "la Cucina Famiglia – My Family's Kitchen." It featured recipes from Leverso's Sicilian background and one recipe from his family's roots on Cape Cod.

Pasta al Tonno e Pomodoro (spaghetti with tuna) also called St. Joseph Spaghetti was prepared with flaked tuna, penne pasta, olive oil, and garlic with Italian plum tomatoes.

In the last five minutes salt, pepper and capers are added as the pasta is folded into the stock.

A final addition is lightly toasted Italian bread crumbs sprinkled over the top.

The dish was light and simple. Leverso said it is also served during Lent and is considered a peasant dish. The breadcrumbs signify sawdust as St. Joseph was a carpenter. And he is said to have saved Sicily from a famine.

Next up was Stufato di pesce Siciliano (Sicilian Fish Stew), another simple dish with a quick prep and cooking time. The dish produced a pleasing aroma and wonderful taste that was light and did not overpower the palette.

Onions and celery are softened in a pan with olive oil over medium heat. Add white wine and the juice from a 20 ounce can of Italian plum tomatoes. Reduce by half.

Add the tomatoes that have been rough chopped, vegetable broth, raisins and capers. Continue cooking over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

Take two pounds of skinless firm flesh fish and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and insert the pieces of fish into the broth. Give a gentle stir and reduce heat to a simmer while covering pot. Simmer for five minutes and remove from heat, letting it sit for another five minutes.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.


For his final dish Leverso visited his family roots on Cape Cod with a dish of Clams Casino. More involved then the other dishes he kept the prep and preparation simple.

Place olive oil over medium heat in a fry pan. Add breadcrumbs, butter Parmesan cheese and parsley. Toss until the breadcrumbs begin to brown and remove from heat.

In a large, high sided sauté pan add olive oil and melted butter. When hot add garlic, white wine and thyme sprigs. Add 24 to 25 little neck clams that have been purged and scrubbed clean.

Place a lid on the pan and cook until clams open over a medium high heat. Remove the clams from the pan to a bowl and strain the broth though a fine mesh sieve. Reserve the broth.

In a sauté pan cook chopped bacon and prosciutto until crisp. Add shallots, garlic and crushed red pepper. Add the clam juice and cook until thick. Remover from heat and add cold butter.

Remove the tops off the clams and discard. Place a small teaspoon of the bacon/butter mixture on top of each clam then sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees until clams are heated through. Serve immediately.


As Leverso cooked, Mike Young shared the stage and created a food sculpture, taking about the same amount of time as Leverso took to cook three dishes.

Young created a lighthouse complete with dock, boat and landscaping.

"This is what $52 of food can build," he said. "And yes, I used Swedish Fish candies to represent the fish in the boat.”

Eggplant, red pepper, carrots, pineapple, cucumber, potatoes, blueberries and fennel were some of the other fruits and vegetables used.

Young mentioned that one year he created a Coast Guard helicopter out of food.

All part of the 2018 Fishermen's Forum.