Q: With St. Joseph's Day coming up in March I wonder if you have some recipes for the St. Joseph's table?
—Edythe Keon, Chicago
A:St. Joseph's Day is March 19. The tradition of setting out a special feast, or table, dates back to the Middle Ages in Italy where families would invite the poor in to dine. The practice began in Sicily, where the saint is credited with ending a drought that had brought famine. A great feast was held in St. Joseph's honor to give thanks.
As the feast day falls during Lent, the menu is traditionally meatless. Choose your favorite seafood or vegetarian dish. Mix in some fava beans if you can. Favas are a traditional feastday food because the beans survived the drought.
Below are three recipes designed for St. Joseph's Day meals pulled from the Chicago Tribune archives.
Shrimp and olive pasta
Prep: 15 minutes. Cook: 25 minutes. Makes: 4 servings
I developed this quick, worknight dish in honor of St. Joseph back in 2008. Serve with baby greens, ciabatta bread and cannoli for dessert. For a wine, try a white garganega from Italy's Veneto region.
1 box (16 ounces) spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound peeled, deveined large shrimp, peeled, butterflied
1 jar (8 ounces) green pimiento-stuffed olives, sliced
1 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter, optional
1/4 cup chopped parsley plus 4 sprigs
1. Prepare spaghetti according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid. Transfer to a large bowl or platter.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add the shrimp; cook, stirring, until just pink, about 1 minute. Stir in olives and white wine; heat to a simmer, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Remove shrimp from skillet with tongs; place on hot pasta. Add the reserved pasta water to the skillet; heat until slightly thickened, about 6 minute. Whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Pour sauce over pasta and shrimp; add chopped parsley. Toss to combine; garnish with parsley sprigs.