They say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, but at Doris Italian Market, we plan to pack this month with tons of delicious goodies for all of our customers from beginning to end. As we all know, St. Patrick’s Day is generally the first holiday that comes to mind when we think about the month of March. This year, however, Easter falls into the last week of the month and will be celebrated on the 27th. That means March will involve a lot of eating and drinking with your friends and family and we have everything you need to get prepared!
To kick off the month, the Feast of St. Joseph is on March 19, just two days after St. Patrick’s day and our bakery will have fresh baked pastries available all month through Easter. Zeppoli are traditional St. Joseph’s day desserts that are made with sweet fried dough and filled with sweet ricotta cheese and topped with custard, cherries or glazed strawberries. Make sure to get enough for the whole family to enjoy on this special holiday!
For Italians, Easter is a very special holiday that’s surrounded by family traditions that are passed down through generations and across continents. The two weeks leading up to the holiday are usually the busiest time of year with lots of preparation for the celebrations ahead, typically starting on Palm Sunday where olive branches are place outside homes and Easter cakes are being baked in every oven in the neighborhood. These Easter cakes or breads, also called Colomba pasquale, otherwise known as “Easter Doves” in English are similar to Christmas style panettone and pandoro breads. The dough is made with almonds, candied peel and shaped like a dove (colomba) before being baked. They can sometimes be topped with chocolate and make a delicious snack, coffee cake or breakfast treat!
Typically, the Thursday before Easter there’s a traditional menu of boiled artichokes that are served with ricotta cheese, olive oil, cheeses and salami galore. On this day, especially if you are from Naples, it’s also common to prepare the “pastiera cake” which will be served on Easter Sunday. This Neapolitan cake is made with eggs, boiled wheat and ricotta cheese. While it sits for several days prior to serving, the flavors within are allowed to blend together creating a very unique flavor and aroma that is signature of the holiday to come.
Good Friday is the day where meat is off the menu in Italian households, giving way to a plethora of delicious light fish dishes that adorn the dining room table. Whether you choose to fast during the day, lunch for lent is commonly served with several courses of savory options including soup, poached fish like mullet and baccala, a dried, salted, and creamy cod mash that is absolutely delicious when spread on fresh baked bread or crispy crostini. Of course, nothing rounds out a beautiful dinner like a selection of dolci or little pastries and chocolate eggs! The following day, Saturday, it’s common to serve Casatiello pie, a delicious round baked good made with hearty lard, pepper, salami, bacon and cheese with boiled eggs nestled within.
When it comes to a traditional Italian Easter Sunday meal you are sure to find common recipes throughout different regions traveling all the way to American Italian households in the US. Meals are usually several courses long that start with a traditional Italian lamb stew or minestrone followed by an antipasti platter of cheese, salami and boiled eggs with potato salads. The pastiera cake that was made days before is delicately cut and served along with roasted lamb, fresh green onions, smoked ham and so much more!
Now that you know how Italians celebrate Easter, we hope we’ve inspired you to incorporate a part of our delicious food culture for your Easter spread this year. Our bakery and meat departments will have most of these delicacies available throughout the month to help you prepare for a busy holiday season with homemade food straight from our stores. Make sure to place your orders early! We are closed on Easter Day with normal hours for the rest of the month.
Buona Pasqua and Happy Easter to all!