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Sicilian-Style Fava Bean Soup

3 Traditional Saint Joseph’s Table Recipes to Share with Your Family

La Festa di San Giuseppe falls each year on March 19, a time when Catholics pay homage to their beloved San Giuseppe. Saint Joseph was the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and took the role of stepfather to the Baby Jesus. He was noted as a hard-working man, faithful to God, who worked tirelessly to provide for his family, which is why he is venerated throughout history.

St. Joseph’s Tables always include a dish using fava beans and often include some sweets as well. Italians enjoy a variety sfinci, or zeppole, known in the U.S. as St. Joseph’s cakes. These pastries vary from region to region, some containing ricotta filling, while others contain sweet pasticciera cream. In honor of this beloved Italian celebration, below are some traditional St. Joseph’s recipes to fill your Tavola di San Giuseppe.

Sicilian-Style Fava Bean Soup

Fava beans play a significant role in the Sicilian tradition of the St. Joseph Table, which began in medieval times during a famine in Sicily. Previously the bean was used as food for cattle, but it was the only crop to survive the drought and so became lucky to everyone on the island.


  • 5 lbs. fresh fava beans
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups diced plum tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • shaved Pecorino Romano cheese


Shell the beans discarding the pods. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and allow to cool completely. Pinch the skin of each bean to break at one end and squeeze the bean out of skin. Set aside.

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over a medium flame and cook onion, garlic and red pepper flakes for 5 minutes, or until the onions have softened. Add stock, tomatoes and fava beans. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the flame to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Add parsley and salt. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

Pasta con le Sarde

Few dishes sums up what is best and most interesting in Sicilian cookery more than Pasta con le Sarde. With pasta, wild fennel and sardines, it is a dish so subtle and harmonious that it is an absolute culinary triumph. Most associated with Sicily’s capital Palermo, it can be found all over the island and is a traditional dish for St. Joseph’s Day.


  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans boneless and skinless sardines, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper


In a large frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over medium flame. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the crumbs from the pan and toss with the Parmigiano cheese. Wipe out the pan.

In the same pan, heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil over a medium-high flame. Add the fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for an additional minute. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Add the sardines, parsley, salt and pepper. Break up the sardines with a fork. Remove from the heat.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain then toss the spaghetti with the sauce and half of the bread crumbs. Top with the remaining crumbs and serve.

Sfinci di San Giuseppe

After weeks of sacrifice during Lent, a sweet such as St. Joseph’s Day Cream Puffs is a welcome treat. You can buy them at the bakery, but why not get the kids or grandchildren involved. They will love the results – and so will you!


For the Cream Puff Shell

  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon zest

For the Filling

  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 tbsp. finely grated chocolate
  • ½ oz. creme de cacao

For Optional Decoration

  • mini chocolate chips
  • chopped pistachios
  • cherries
  • candied orange peel


Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease a baking sheet. For the puff pastry shell, combine first five ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly until the dough leaves the side of the pan and starts to form a ball. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the orange and lemon zests. Drop by tablespoon onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 25 minutes.

For the cream filling, stir all the filling ingredients together until smooth. When the puffs have cooled, cut a small slice off the top. Fill puffs with cream and replace the small slice on top of filling. Dust with confectioner’s sugar or if desired, decorate with chopped pistachios, cherries, mini chocolate chips and candied orange peel.