Santa Lucia is one of the most beloved Saints in Sicily. Although December 13th, her feast day is not a national holiday, it is still a day of remembrance and prayer, often accompanied by traditional recipes devoted to the memory of the Saint.
Zuppa di Santa Lucia
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
7 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 lb white mushrooms, washed and sliced
5 fresh Italian plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 sprig fresh marjoram
1 sprig fresh thyme
5 cups chicken stock
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tbsp grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
8 slices Italian bread, preferably stale, cut 1/2-inch thick
Soak the porcini in a cup of warm water for at least 30 minutes. Drain the through a fine strainer. Reserve the strained liquid. Re-rinse the mushrooms, pat dry and chop finely.
Place 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium flame. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until fragrant and slightly softened. Add the porcini and white mushrooms. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the porcini liquid, tomatoes, salt, pepper, marjoram, thyme and the stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the flame and simmer for 15 minutes.
Combine the egg yolks, Parmigiano and pecorino cheeses in a mixing bowl. Gradually whisk 1 cup of the hot soup into the mixture to warm it. Then whisk the egg mixture directly into the simmering pot, stirring to thicken the soup. Add the parsley and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush the slices of bread with the remaining olive oil and toast them in the oven at 400°F, until golden brown. Place one piece of the toast in the bottom of each serving bowl, ladle the soup over the top and serve with additional grated Parmigiano on the side.
Cuccia di Pistacchi (Pistachio Cuccia)
2 ½ oz wheat berry
5 oz ricotta
2 tbsp cream
4 tbsp sugar
2 ½ oz pistachios, shelled, peeled and cut in half
pinch of cinnamon
Boil the wheat berries in sweetened water until soft, but not mushy. The wheat should still retain a little bite. Drain the wheat berries and allow to cool down to room temperature.
To prepare the ricotta cream, simply whisk together the ricotta with the cream, sugar and a little pinch of cinnamon. When you are ready to serve, combined the wheat berries with the ricotta cream and the pistachios. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Serve with a little grated orange zest on top.
Occhi di Santa Lucia (Eyes of Saint Lucy)
4 1/2 – 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
vegetable oil for deep-frying
confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
In a bowl, mix together 4 cups of the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Stir the mixture into the flour mixture, adding enough additional flour to make a soft ball of dough.
On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each piece into a rectangle about 15×12 in. Sprinkle each rectangle evenly with half of the remaining sugar and roll up tightly like a jelly roll. Cut the rolls into ½-inch-thick slices.
In a deep-fryer or deep heavy pot, heat the vegetable oil to 375°F. Fry the cookies, a few at a time, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to brown paper to drain. Sprinkle the cookies with confectioners’ sugar and serve.