Cencioni with Tomato, Fish & Mint

Cook Time 1 hour

Servings 4


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, sliced

250g cherry tomatoes, halved

300g skinless fillets of firm white fish, such as snapper, blue eye cod or coral trout, cut into 3cm pieces

100ml dry white wine


A small handful of mint leaves, shredded, plus extra to serve

Finely grated lemon zest, to serve


400g semolina flour (semola), plus extra for dusting

180ml warm water

Fine sea salt


To make the dough for the cencioni, tip the flour onto a clean work surface and mix with a larger pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in the warm water. Use your hands to slowly bring the flour into the water, mixing until you have a rough dough. If the dough feels very dry or difficult to bring together, sprinkle over a little extra water. Knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth. It should be soft but not sticky. Add extra semolina flour if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap or an upturned bowl and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Take a small piece of the dough, keeping the remainder covered while you work, and roll it into a rope about 1.5cm wide. Cut the rope into 1.5cm pieces and, using a flat butter knife angles at 45 degrees, drag the piece of dough across your work surface. It should be mostly flat with a little texture. Place the cencioni on a clean tea towel dusted with semolina flour and continue with the remaining dough.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over low-medium heat and gently fry the garlic and tomatoes until the tomatoes are beginning to blister and release some liquid. Add the fish and cook for a minute, then add the wine and simmer occasionally - be gentle so you don’t break up the fish. Season with salt to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Generously salt the water, add the pasta and cook for 4-5 minutes or until just under al dente. Drain, reserving 250ml (1 cup) of the cooking water. Increase the heat to medium and add the pasta to the sauce, along with some of the cooking water if the sauce is a little dry. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the pasta is well coated, adding more water if necessary. Stir throughout the mint, then sprinkle with the lemon zest and extra mint and serve.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Cook and author of Ostro and A Year of Simple Family Food


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