Easter – Pasqua – is, as you would expect, an extremely important festival in Italy. Many people will attend church services on Good Friday – and even more on Easter Sunday. The Resurrection, and the ending of the Lenten restrictions, are celebrated with special dishes that also have clear links to pre-Christian celebrations of Spring. Eggs, lamb and wheat all feature in Italian Easter specialities. Bakeries and chocolate shops at this time of year also have mouth-watering displays in their windows, with elaborate chocolate Easter eggs and regional versions of Colomba – bread made in the shape of a dove of peace and baked with lots of eggs, candied peel and almonds.
Fish Dish for Good Friday
The most appropriate meal for Good Friday would be a fish or vegetable dish, and there are plenty of choices. You could make Torta Pasqualina, originally from Liguria, which would be good hot or cold. Pasqualina is an Easter Pie and contains eggs, cheese – and artichokes or spinach, encased in delicious pastry. There are various versions of the pie which traditionally had thirty-three layers of filo pastry, representing the number of years that Christ lived.
There’s plenty of choice of fish dishes for Good Friday. One good option would be Italian Roast Sea Bass, which is easy to cook and has a lovely fresh flavour, as it’s roasted with fennel and lemon. Ideal for a springtime supper. Alternatively, you could try some seafood dishes from the Romagna region. There’s a seafood taglioni, a deliciously light dish, made with pasta, mussels and sage; or a roast turbot cooked with capers and olives. All the recipes are on these Italian Cuisine pages.
Lamb for Easter Sunday
The classic Italian meal for Easter Sunday is lamb. You could simply roast a leg of lamb, or try an Italian recipe called angello brodettato in which a joint of lamb is cooked with an egg and lemon sauce. It’s very easy to cook: the meat is simmered slowly with white wine and egg yolks and lemon juice are added just before serving. The recipe is on these pages.
If you prefer to have a richer lamb dish, then you could try this recipe from Umbria in which lamb is cooked with pasta, saffron and wild fennel. Marsala wine and Parmesan cheese add more rich flavours to the meal.
If you want a starter, then something like an Italian pear and walnut salad would be light and tasty.
Easter Sunday Italian Dessert
For an Easter Sunday treat it would be well worth making presniz. This is a dessert from the northern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia and is rather like a strudel. It’s an Easter speciality and is delicious – a rum-soaked pastry made with chocolate, candied peel, almonds, pine nuts and raisins.
And what about Easter Monday? Well, in Italy it’s tradtional to go for a picnic. If you’ve any torta pasqualina left you could have that cold, along with meats, cheeses, some delicious Italian bread – and a bottle or two of good wine. Then all you need is some spring sunshine.