This week’s St. Joseph’s Day recipes are courtesy of “Sicily: Culinary Crossroads” by Giuseppe Coria and translated by Gaetano Cipolla.
Favi a Ghiotta
Fava Beans with Tomatoes – fava beans are considered be lucky in Sicily and were the food that helped the island’s population to avert famine. Traditional for St. Joseph’s Day, this recipe calls for dried fava beans with the “eye” removed.
2 lbs fava beans, shells removed
extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped coarsely
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
fresh basil leaves, torn
Pinch the fava beans to remove the “eye” and soak them in water (covered) overnight. Boil the beans in salted water until plump and the centers are soft, although not quite cooked through. Remove from heat and gently drain, reserving a ladle of water. As soon as they are sufficiently cool to handle, remove and discard the skins.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and sauté the onion until golden. Add the tomatoes, basil, a pinch of salt and pepperoncino to taste. Then add the fava beans. Add the ladle of reserved liquid and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with warm crusty bread.
Maccu di San Giuseppe, o Ministredda
St. Joseph’s Day Soup – this maccu is a special soup that includes a variety of dried vegetables and beans cooked together. The recipe, which exists in various forms fulfills a precise need – to use the vegetables not consumed during the winter. The Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19, near the beginning of spring, offers the best occasion for using the leftover vegetables.
1/3 cup each: dried fava beans, peas, kidney beans and chick peas, soaked for 12 hours
chopped borage (AKA starflower)
wild, or baby fennel
1 onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp sundried tomatoes, mashed
pepperoncino, to taste
extra virgin olive oil
Rinse and drain the soaked beans. Place the beans in a sauce pan with enough water to cover, salt to taste and bring to a boil. Simmer on a low flame for at least 1 hour. At this point, add the lentils, borage, fennel, onion, sundried tomatoes and pepperoncino. Continue to cook for another hour. Taste for seasoning and drizzle with olive oil before serving.
This recipe translates as “Drowned Squid.” Squid have two small bladders, one with black ink (similar to those found in cuttlefish) which has an iodine-like flavor and another containing a yellowish liquid, which is very much appreciated by gourmets for its hint of musk.
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
medium-sized squid (about 2 lbs.) cut into slices, saving the contents of the yellow bladder
1 cup dry white wine
10 pitted Sicilian green olives, chopped
1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
1 celery heart, chopped, plus smaller leaves
handful of Italian parsley, chopped
½ lb barely ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
pepperoncino, sliced, to taste
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and sauté the chopped onion until golden. Add the chopped garlic and squid pieces. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the white wine to the pan and continue to cook for 6 to 8 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Add the pitted olives, capers, chopped celery heart and leaves, parsley, tomatoes and pepperoncino to taste.
It is not necessary to add water at this stage since the squid will sweat, but a small amount can be added during the cooking, which is on a very low flame for 1 hour. A few minutes before removing the pan from the flame, add the contents of the yellow bladder, stirring well to combine. Serve hot.