5 Italian Easter Dishes and Wine Pairings

A robin made a nest in the wreath on our front door. She’s been out there, fluttering from the edge of the roof, to the twigs in the planter, to the shrub…constantly moving about. My husband called it: she’s going to lay eggs. 


New Life and A New Season

Now there is one delicate blue egg living precariously on our front door. Delicate. It takes on a meaning that I feel in my heart when I see this tiny, fragile, beautiful start to a new life. But I’m worried: The front door of a home with teenage boys just isn’t safe. Years ago this same thing happened, eggs in the wreath, and they hatched. And they grew. And the mama accidentally flew into our house when some kids left the door open. And they competed for space, and eventually one fell out.

I found it. This bird was still forming, a beak as wide as her body and feathers that seemed to be skin. An awkward imbalance built from leaning on a nest, or a sibling, for her entire short life. I’ve heard it said that if one touches a wild animal baby, the mama will smell human and stay away, but this bird was as vulnerable as a bubble. On the hard ground, positioned at the foot of a front door.

I picked up the bird with a washcloth and gentle put her back in the nest. The fragment spent holding her life in my hand was terrifying, but powered by courage. Would the mama come back?

In fact, she did. The baby bird was raised up and finally flew off. Actually she flew down, walked around our landscape for hours, and finally flew.

Easter in Italy

Back to the egg. Easter for Christians is symbolized by the miracle of new life. Eggs represent that beautiful potential, the opportunity to live and share and experience and love. That’s what happened on Easter, Jesus experienced new life. Not everyone is Christian, but for many others the Spring season also means new life: nature’s abundance, the protection of renewal, the nourishment of breath.

Italy is a primarily Christian country, home to Rome and loving St. Francis. Home to natural beauty, friendly families, rich agriculture, miles and miles of abundant coast. It’s home to some of the world’s great vineyards and has sheltered and nurtured the work of winemakers for thousands of years. According to Jennifer at VinoTravels:

Easter, known as Pasqua in Italian, is a big holiday celebrated throughout all of Italy with each region and towns honoring their own traditions. The Monday following Pasqua is also a public holiday known as la Pasquetta

Throughout Italy, church masses and processions are held where statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus are paraded through towns or displayed in the town center.
To celebrate this season of new life, I’d like to share five Italian Easter Dishes and Wine pairings. Enjoy these with your family, listen the birds, smell the just-popped flowers and enjoy life. From my family to yours: Happy Easter and Pasqua.
5 Italian Easter Dishes and Wine Pairings
Asparagus with Hard Boiled Egg Sauce + Torre dei Beati ‘Giocheremo Con i Fiori‘ Pecorino Abruzzo

The history of asparagus-as-food is fascinating. Ancient Greeks and Romans touted the medicinal value of the stalks, while later civilizations considered it an aphrodisiac. It is also delicious and beautiful on the plate. This dish features the delicate spring-bringing white asparagus and a sauce made from the yolks of hard-boiled eggs. While most aren’t raving about the culinary impact of wine + asparagus, I’ve found it be such a versatile side that it can fit into many meal and pairing situations. With this dish, I’d love the crisp touch of Pecorino from Abruzzo, full of fresh aromatics.

“Sciusceddu” (Meatballs and Egg Soup) + G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba DOC

Indeed, eggs again. This time with rich veal meatballs and a fresh cheese called Caciocavallo which can be substituted with Parmesean. This dish has Sicilian origins and blends the light freshness of ricotta cheese and parsley with the satisfying warmth of broth and meatballs. Pairing here is bit tricky, the dish is veal-based, balanced with the broth and cheese. Also, the piping hot soup needn’t be contrasted with a chilled wine. I would choose a beautiful ruby Barbera, always food-friendly with low tannins and present acid. I’m a fan of the wines of G.D. Vajra and recommend their Barbera d’Alba DOC from estate vineyards in Barolo and Novello.

Campania Fried Eggs with Cheese + Cantina del Vesuio Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosato D.O.P

Packed with béchamel and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese this dish is a rich and impressive part of the Easter meal. Campania is home to Naples, Mt. Vesuivo and the Amalfi Coast. Also home to pizza and spaghetti, buffalo mozzarella and Limoncello of Sorrento. I am intrigued by the volcanic-soil wines of Cantina del Vesuvio, and consider the full-bodied and flavorful Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosato D.O.P., 100% Piedirosso, to be a suitable pairing. According to the cantina, “Lacryma Christi is made from grapes indigenous to the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, and has been produced since Ancient Roman times. The first mention of this grape variety being grown in this area dates to the 5th century BC.”

Lamb with Artichokes + Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Chianti Classico DOCG 2013

This lamb dish, which relies on high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and sapori Italiano (Italian spices, for flavor) is a traditional and delicious second course. Buy your lamb from a reliable producer and look for fresh artichokes. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is also a component. What a dream to handle this dish with pure Italian ingredients. Chianti is a well-established pairing for lamb, as red wine with enough delicacy and balance to sit pretty with the gentle red-meat flavors of lamb. Castello di Ama, Sienna, makes all of their wines from their own vineyards, and their wines are respected and enjoyed worldwide. The San Lorenzo Chianti Classico is made of Sangiovese 80%; Merlot 13%; Malvasia Nera 7%, a balance of fruit and spice for the meal.

Torta alla Pasqualina + Giacomelli Vermentino Colli di Luni “Pianacce

This is a Ligurian treat made with spinach, eggs and (traditionally) 33 layers of puff pastry. It is beautiful as well as savory and satisfying…a dish to share, perfect for a holiday meal. Trance-inducing Liguria is one of my favorite spots in Italy, home of Cinque Terre’s terraced vineyards. A visit here creates a sensual familiarity with the Mediterranean sea and all the indulgent glory that it implies. I’m suggesting Vermentino (Rolle, for my French friends) for this dish.  Giacomelli Vermentino Colli di Luni is a classic Ligurian white wine, fresh and aromatic, made a high-quality producer.


Italian Food, Wine & Travel

Each month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel (ItalianFWT) group focuses on an aspect of Italian life. Easter, this month’s focus, brings us to the table to enjoy a most personal look at a holiday with important focus in Italy. Saturday, April 1 at 10 am central, we will gather on twitter under the hashtag #ItalianFWT. Here’s what our writers have planned:

Jen from Vino Travels features Easter Celebrations in Puglia
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla features Il Verdetto di Pasqua + Sella & Mosca Terre Rare Riserva Carignano
Susannah of Avvinare features Easter Traditions in Rome
Jill of L’occasion features 5 Italian Easter Dishes and Wine Pairings (thanks for reading!)
Gwendolyn of Art Predator features Easter Bread and other Italian Traditions Paired with Wine

Mike of Undiscovered Italy features Colomba di Pasqua

Happy Easter from all of us!
Thank you to Moyan Brenn for the use of his gorgeous photos for this piece. To see his full portfolio visit: Moyan Brenn.

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