The final month of summer has begun and for many Italians around the world, this means the celebration of Ferragosto! This Italian and Sammarinese public holiday starts on August 15, coinciding with the Assumption of Mary, a Catholic holiday. It’s also typically considered a national “summer vacation” period when many people are relieved of their work duties for a long weekend to spend with their families and friends. This is one of the most important holidays for Italians, second to Christmas, so let’s get ready to party!
You don’t have to be in Italy to celebrate this summer holiday, in fact, you don’t even have to be Italian! Take this month to really appreciate good company and the festivities of summer whether you are going on a trip to the beach or cooking out at home enjoying a wonderful stay-cation. We’ve compiled some of our favorite foods from Ferragosto festivals around Italy and are ready to share the tasty treasures you can find all along the coast and even in the mountains!
Back in Roman times, the Goddess Diana and the God Vortumno were celebrated for the summer’s abundant harvests. The festivities lasted for days on end, some going from mid-July to mid-September where entire towns would be in a constant state of celebration. There would be plays, music, and lots and lots of food. The most popular treats served during Ferragosto celebrations involved wheat, spelt, a lot of fresh cut fruit and juicy roasted meat that was often on a spit for the public to salivate over while walking through town. Of course, they also served a local favorite, which would definitely be considered a delicacy here, of roast pigeon in an indulgent sauce. To top things off, what would a celebration be without delicious baked goods? In the Tuscan region, tiny little donuts called zuccherini montanari are sold at bakeries on every corner. These soft and delicious little doughnuts are covered in a delicate sugar icing and make a perfect treat alongside coffee or a dessert liqueur.
If you want to celebrate Ferragosto in proper Italian style here in the states, we suggest a menu of items such as sausage and peppers, leg of lamb, some fried calamari and stuffed clams! The secret to achieving the most authentic flavors with these foods is to use the right spices!
- Italian Grilled Leg of Lamb
Don’t worry about heating up the oven for hours with a lamb recipe for this summer’s festival, get your grilled fired up to prepare the tastiest lamb dish to get your Ferragosto grigliati (barbecue) started!
- The first step is to carefully cut along the muscle separations of the meat into small sections. This works better than butterflying leg of lamb since we are working on the grill. This will also ensure that the meat is cooked quickly with a delicious outer crust and a tender mellow flavor inside.
- For a 4lb or 5lb boneless leg of lamb you will need ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 8 chopped cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of minced rosemary and freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine all ingredients and season the leg of lamb before placing on the grill. Place the meat over a hot fire and turn frequently until the internal temperature reaches 125F – 130F for medium rare.
- Place finished pieces onto cutting board and cover with foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
- Some good side dishes are grill roasted vegetables, potatoes and fresh baked bread!
- Watermelon Sorbet (now with vodka!)
Cool off with this seasonally fruity adult beverage that can be whipped up at home with pro-level results! This makes the perfect addition to any picnic or Ferragosto cook out!
- Ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 1 tsp lime zest, 8 cups of seedless watermelon chunks, ½ cup vodka (or more if desired!)
- Combine sugar, water, and lime zest in a small saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil while constantly stirring. After about 3 minutes and the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and pour syrup through a wire-mesh strainer. Remove lime zest entirely.
- Blend diced watermelon with simple syrup until pureed, adding vodka to your heart’s content! Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Use an ice cream maker and freeze this mixture according to the instructions on the machine. Freeze for about 4 hours. Don’t be afraid to use flavored vodka.
As we wrap up the summer, we want to make sure that all of our clients and customers enjoy the wonderful joys of the season to the last drop. Gather with your friends and family as you celebrate a signature holiday of our Italian heritage and BUON FERRAGOSTO!