Monday, March 16, 2009
If It’s St. Joseph’s Day, We Must Have Pasta con Sarde
March 19th is St. Joseph's Day, a celebration which began in Sicily in the Middle Ages when the region experienced severe drought. In desperation, the people asked St. Joseph, their patron, to intervene. They promised, if rain came, that they would prepare a big feast in his honor. These prayers were answered with rainy weather and, in gratitude, huge banquet tables were set up in the streets and the poor were invited to come and eat as much as they wanted.
Preparing a St. Joseph’s Table is a daunting and labor intensive task. It involves cooking several different dishes in order to fill the dinner table with a bounty that could feed the masses. Growing up in a Sicilian family, I looked forward to St. Joseph Day and to the feast my family would lovingly prepare. One of the dishes I enjoyed the most is Pasta con Sarde (pasta with sardines). Although my family made their sarde sauce from scratch, I have a short cut version that takes minutes to prepare, and you can get the ingredients every day of the year.
All you will need for your Pasta con Sarde is:
1 lb of pasta (I use Gondola egg noodles)
your favorite tomato sauce (I make my own but Guercio’s bottled pasta sauce works perfectly for this dish)
1 can of sarde sauce (which you can also find at Guercio’s year round)
The sarde sauce ingredients are listed as: young fennel, sardines, raisins, onion, sunflower oil, sardine puree, salt and pepper. Feel free to embellish the recipe, as I do, by adding more of any of the listed ingredients, to create a sauce full of the flavors you most enjoy. I prefer to add some sauteed chopped fresh fennel bulb and more chopped raisins to the sauce, which gives a nice fresh flavor to the finished dish.
The procedure is simple:
In a sauce pan heat the tomato sauce, add the amount of the canned sarde sauce to your liking and bring to heat on medium.
Prepare the pasta according to the package, drain thoroughly and combine it with the sauce mixture. That's it!
Most Sicilians do not use grated cheese with fish dishes, feeling the cheese may over power the flavor of a dish. With Pasta con Sarde the traditional garnish is toasted bread crumbs, which are easy to make, by lightly toasting bread crumbs in a saute pan with a little butter until browned and crispy.
You do not need to prepare a St. Joseph’s Day table in order to enjoy one of the most popular dishes from that table, and you don’t have to wait until March 19th to get the ingredients.
Viva San Giuseppe!
Guercio & Sons
250 Grant Street, Buffalo, NY 14213
Gondola Macaroni Products
1985 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY 14207