Easter, or Pasqua, in Italy is a major cause for celebration due to the country’s significant Catholic heritage. During Holy Week there are processions, pageants and traditional services across the nation and over the Easter weekend itself families and friends come together to share wonderful feasts! Marking the end of Lent, when many people will have given up luxuries - from meat and alcohol to chocolate and sugar - Easter is often an occasion for indulgence.
A traditional Easter meal in Italy, like most celebratory feasts, will often consist of multiple courses and countless different dishes will be served over several hours.
The first course or starter will often be soup or pasta - sometimes both. If soup is served, this will usually incorporate seasonal produce like fresh spring vegetables or foraged goods like wild garlic and mushrooms. Filled pasta is also a very popular primo in Italy, and for an Easter celebration our lamb and rosemary ravioli would be the perfect choice. If you fancy something a little lighter, vegetable or cheese-filled pasta would also be a great way to start your meal and our courgette and scamorza ravioli is a delicious option.
Following the tradition of Liguria in northwest Italy, often a sort of pie made with eggs, known as Torta Pasqualina, is served as part of the main meal on Easter Sunday. Usually enjoyed cold, this tart was first made with artichoke, though now it is also common to use leafy green vegetables like spinach and chard. Historically it is thought that this torta was made with thirty-three sheets of puff pastry, each representing a year of Jesus’ life on earth. At the centre of this pie you’ll find a whole egg, a traditional symbol of new life.
The Main Event
As in the UK, in Italy lamb often constitutes the centrepiece of the Easter meal. This can be served in many different forms from a slow-roasted joint to braised shanks of lamb marinated in fresh herbs. In Lazio often lamb ribs are the favoured cut, cooked until deliciously crispy whilst in Trentino it is not uncommon to enjoy polpettine pasquali (Easter meatballs). In the regions of Piemonte and Veneto a roasted leg of lamb is traditionally prepared with potatoes. Wherever you are, the meat is usually served with seasonal vegetables, sourced locally and prepared simply - ensuring their natural flavours are brought to the fore.
After this main course there will usually be some form of dessert, or dolce, and the Italian favourite for Easter celebrations is pastiera napoletana. Made with semolina, ricotta cheese and citrus flavours from lemon zest and orange-blossom this is a tasty treat and a true labour of love, taking over 6 hours to prepare! Pastiera napoletana has become immensely popular in il bel paese, though many have adopted alternative recipes that are less time-consuming to prepare. Colomba cake is also popular at Easter time and our traditional Colomba cake recipe is truly delicious.
An Easter feast of this scale demands a similarly indulgent line-up of drinks. To precede the meal you could kick-start the celebrations with a chilled bottle of Prosecco, why not get the bubbles flowing early? Moving onto the main event, we recommend a bold red wine to accompany your lamb, Cannonau - a traditional Sardinian variety - would be a strong choice here. Finally, when the meal is complete we love to round off the celebrations with a digestivo, a small glass of limoncello or arancello will hit the spot, or a strong espresso if you’re that way inclined.
At Pasta Evangelists, we bring a taste of Italy to your kitchen. Prepared using the freshest ingredients, our gourmet pasta dishes are perfect for those looking to enjoy restaurant-quality meals, delivered to your door, and ready in under five minutes. Order from our weekly menu today, and we’ll offer you 25% off your first delivery - simply enter the code BLOG25 at checkout.