Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Buona Pasqua

Look, I know I'm just a white guy from Jersey, but I really do embrace my Italian heritage and much of the time wish I was more Italian in some way other than having a Roman nose. I love to cook Italian food, especially at Easter since we tend to always spend it with my side of the family.

Every Easter I make "Pizzagaina" for my family. You've probably never heard of it, as almost no one outside of my family ever has. It's a savory pie jam-packed with cured meats and cheese - salami, pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, parmesan. Plus you can throw in anything else you like, such as roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, even hard boiled egg. It's served at the conclusion of Lent, once the period of sacrificing is over. (You know we Catholics even give up meat on Fridays. Well, the practicing ones do). It's one of the things I remember my paternal grandmother always making, yet when she passed away I sadly realized that no one else knew how to make it. I randomly came across a similar recipe a few years back, tweaked it a little so it was closer to what I remembered, and tested it on la famiglia. Success! Now it's a tradition that I carry on, even if it's essentially a heart attack on a plate!

In my continuing goal to scour my cookbooks and try at least 1 new recipe a week, I decided on a new dessert for Easter dinner: "Torta della Nonna." It means "Grandmother's tart," which is fitting since I was making my Grandmother's appetizer too. I 1st heard of it when reading the book "Under the Tuscan Sun" and tried to find some when we went to Tuscany a long time ago, but never did. Bummer, since it sounded so good - a sweet crust filled with custard and topped with pine nuts. Simple, but elegant, and molto squisito.


The Houston's said...

Yummy!!! We'll be there next Easter! :)

Matt said...

Thank you for saving some Pizzagaina for me. It was delicious!