I remember my first fresh pea. Ejected from its pod, I inspected it, lying in the palm of my hand with its siblings. I’d had frozen peas before, tasteless and of a much darker hue than this one which put the pea in pea-green. The taste, more like a fruit than a vegetable, took me by surprise. His siblings didn’t last long.
Fresh ravioli with tuna and hazelnut filling make a dinner-party dazzler or a comforting weekend meal.
There is something almost spiritual about making fresh pasta. Seeing the combined ingredients turn from disorder to order under your hands is an age old kitchen miracle, witnessed by generations before us. It puts you in touch with them. Respect for them pushes you to make the effort to knead the dough for that extra minute. The pride you feel on seeing that ball of dough, as smooth as marble, in front of you is the same pride they felt, connecting you through the ages.
These crispeddi di riso, also known as zeppole, are traditionally eaten in Catania on 19 March but are delicious any day of the year.
19 March in Italy is the feast of San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph), the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. In the south of Italy it’s a really big deal since it doubles as Father’s Day and there are often processions of statues through the streets. .
Catania’s classic dish, pasta alla Norma, is perfect for a midweek dinner alone or with guests.
Like some of the best Italian recipes, the Bellini cocktail, carpaccio and so on, pasta alla Norma is dedicated to an important artist: Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835), perhaps Catania’s most famous son.
Celebrate Meatball Day on 9 March with these exquisite Sicilian meatballs in a rich sweet and sour sauce.
Meatballs, known in Italian as polpette, are as Italian as pizza and pasta. In fact, outside Italy they are often combined with both. Spaghetti with meatballs is a very popular Italian-American dish. Who can forget the Lady and the Tramp enjoying a large bowl of them and Tramp nudging the last meatball over to Lady with his nose in Disney’s film?
Cantucci, biscotti, or biscotti di Prato?
Cantucci are probably the best-known Italian biscuits abroad. Outside Italy they are often referred to simply as biscotti, which is a shortening of their alternative name, biscotti di Prato. However, if you went into an Italian shop or bar and asked for a biscotto you’d be presented with an extremely wide range of confection. Biscotto for Italians is the equivalent of biscuit or cookie: and there are many types.