Caper Berries and Tomatoes Salad  



Cucunci e Pumaroru a ‘Nzalata” 



                    Cucunci di Salina


Caper berries, tomato, olive oil, basil, oregano, salt and pepper make a healthy as well as a tasty salad that goes well as acontorno , side dish, or as an aromatic appetizer to tease your taste buds.
My niece Marzia Greco-Fiorilla vacationing in
Salina , one of the Aeolian islands not far from Sicily, was served in one of the restaurants facing the green-blue sea, a salad with caper berries and tomatoes: she liked it so much that pronto she wrote me and sent me suggestions, pictures and an easy recipe to make a sauce, that in Salina is served over pasta.
 Salina  the “cucunci ” are served in appetizers, mixed in green salads and also used to garnish fish dishes.


  Tomatoes Saline Style


Capers grow all over Sicily  and in the many small islands and archipelagos surrounding Sicily. It is a bush that easily grows wild in coastal areas, in arid land, on the side of roads or in any cracks in rocks, walls or pavements.
The capers are the buds of this plant and they must be picked before they flower to produce the fruit called caper berry, which is the size of an olive. Caper berry is called
 cucuncio  in Sicilian and capperone  in Italian. 

Capers and caper berries are available salted, or preserved in vinegar or oil.
Capers have been utilized for millenniums in Sicilian cooking to aromatize food from fish to meats and for its medical properties. In fact the extract of caper is beneficial as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-histaminic.
Parts of the roots are selected to prepare a tea useful as a diuretic, and to help in the cure of arthritis, varicose veins and gout.
Capers are sorted out by size, the smaller are called non-pareils, have a delicate flavor, are the size of a small pea and are the most costly; the larger have a stronger taste and are less expensive.
Cucunci, the caper berries are preferably eaten raw, because when they are cooked the delicate taste and aroma fade away.  




·          5 tomatoes, ripe and hard, use local fruits, if available  

·          5 oz. caper berries or use capers if berries are not available  

·          4 tablespoons of olive oil  

·          5 basil leaves  

·          Small pinch of oregano  

·          Salt and pepper to taste  



Cut the tomatoes in wedges and place in a large serving bowl.
Sprinkle with salt, toss well. Set on the side for 15 minutes, than check and add more salt if needed. Rinse caper berries well and tear the basil leaves into small pieces.
Mix into the bowl and toss in the caper berries, oregano, basil, olive oil and pepper.
Serve at room temperature with fresh bread to dunk in the oil and the juice released by the tomatoes. 


Cucunci,Pomodori e Formaggio



To make a sauce “a crudo”, raw to dress pasta use the above recipe except for coarsely dicing the tomato and adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 15 pitted black olives cut in half, 5 pitted and chopped green olives, mint leaves and ¼ lb. diced caciocavallo cheese.
Cook al dente one pound of your preferred pasta and use this sauce. Serve grated cheese on the side.