Tag Archives: pane di san giuseppe

Tuck away the “green”, It’s time to be Italian!

18 Mar

Sorry Amici,but it’s time to tuck away the green turn our attention to making ourselves just a little more “italiano”for the big day ,March 19th. In our home, one of the celebrations that trumped all others was la festa di San Giuseppe—or Saint Joseph’s Day!  What a joyful occasion on many levels, the least of which that it was also the “name day” (onomastico) for my grandmother (Giuseppina Lupino), my grandfather (Giuseppe D’Agostino), and several other people in the famiglia, who were named after the saint. In the Christian tradition, of course St. Joseph is honored as the step-father of Jesus, and therefore, throughout Italy, March 19th is also the official Father’s Day.

During the Middle Ages, San Giuseppe (St Joseph) was said to have saved Sicily from famine, by answering the prayers of her people and providing rain after a terrible drought. As a result the people were able to grow fava beans, and other food sources. To give thanks and praise, large tables of mouthwatering dishes were set up in public squares or churches, for all to partake in—rich or poor. La Tavola  di San Giuseppe is still a tradition today among some churches, Italian organizations, and even in individual homes of  those of Italian heritage throughout the world. Since it falls during the Catholic season of Lent, the recipes are, of course, meatless.

Zia Marinella and I always discuss cooking when I call her in Italy, and this morning was no exception, when I called to wish Zio Antonio la buona festa for tomorrow.

Since I can’t have you all to my table,  I want to at least share these recipes with you, to give you just a few ideas for your own Tavola di San Giuseppe —one that transforms itself into a delicious feast, with even more delicious company. Remember, la festa di San Giuseppe is more than just store-bought zeppole (although this is the one time of year I would say that a bit of indulgence is justified!). Frequently, in Southern Italy, some of the characteristic dishes placed on the San Giuseppe table include  la baccala’ (salted cod fish), stuffed peppers, eggplant, artichoke dishes,  spaghetti topped with fennel sauce and toasted breadcrumbs (to represent the sawdust of the carpenter Joseph), as well as lentils and other legume dishes. Il pane di San Giuseppe is also a favorite.

Marinella, like most Italian women, doesn’t use a cookbook. When she dictated these recipes to me, the measurements weren’t exact, and that is purposeful. Unlike baking, which is more of a science where exact measurements are critical, Italian creativity in cooking comes with the non-rigid and joyful abandonment of tweaking ingredients, and eventually finding your own special preferences.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do:

—Le Ricette—

Pasta e fagioli (pasta and cannellini beans)

½ bag of dried white cannellini beans that have been soaked overnight, then rinsed

water to cover beans

salt to taste

Drizzle olive oil

3 fresh or ½ can plum tomatoes

6 leaves fresh basil, shredded

1 tsp oregano (or to taste)

1 large stalk celery, chopped finely

1 onion, chopped finely

3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

½ bunch parsley, chopped finely

1 cup of ditali pasta (or any small pasta)

Parmesan cheese to garnish.

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for about ¾ hour, or until beans are tender. Add pasta and as soon as it is al dente (not too soft) remove and serve in bowls. Sprinkle parmesan over top, and serve with a good crusty Italian bread and arugula salad.

Pasta ai Piselli (Pasta with Peas)

This recipe is very similar to pasta e fagioli. Really you substitute only one ingredient—peas for cannellini beans. Try to get fresh peas, right from the pod; if not, you can use frozen.

½ pound of fresh green peas (or frozen

water to cover peas

salt to taste

Drizzle olive oil

3 fresh or ½ can plum tomatoes

6 leaves fresh basil, shredded

1 tsp oregano (or to taste)

1 large stalk celery, chopped finely

1 onion, chopped finely

3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

½ bunch parsley, chopped finely

1 cup of ditali pasta (or any small pasta)

Parmesan cheese to garnish.

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for about ¾ hour, or until beans are tender. Add pasta and as soon as it is al dente (not too soft) remove and serve in bowls. Sprinkle parmesan over top, and serve with a good crusty Italian bread and arugula salad.

Sugo di Pomodoro (quick tomato sauce)

Drizzle of olive oil

Salt to taste

Red pepper flakes (a couple of shakes)

1Small onion

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of San Marzano tomatoes (mashed with fork)

Handful of fresh basil, chopped

¼-½ bunch of parsley, finely chopped

In a pot, drizzle olive oil. When hot, add chopped onion and sauté just until translucent. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Make sure you don’t burn it. When garlic is just golden, add tomatoes, salt, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer for up to an hour. This sauce can be used on any  (al dente) cooked pasta, as well as over polenta. NOTE: As your pasta is boiling in salted water, you can take a ladle-full of the water out and add to your bubbling tomato sauce.

Polenta  (corn meal mush)

Polenta is used as an alternative to pasta, for a change. This version is very light, and you can enjoy it as a side dish with a piece of broiled meat or fish, or as a main dish with a piece of cheese and a salad.

Cornmeal

Water

Salt

Follow directions on cornmeal package. Add salt to taste, and let polenta get nice and thick. Spoon it onto the plate, and top with some sugo di pomodoro. You can top with grated parmesan (or grate yourself, fresh). This polenta is eaten with a spoon.

For all of you dedicated and wonderful fathers out there, buona festa!  Please tell your friends about this uplifting self-help blog, where my mission is to help everyone to live, a “dolce vita” every single day.  Mille grazie!

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