Penne Pasta "Quills" for the Evangelists

There are hundreds of kinds of Italian pastas, and each one has its own, special name.  Each pasta name actually means something which can be really fun and symbolic for making a connection for a creative dish or celebration.

Penne pasta is a tubular shaped pasta with slanted ends. The name means “quills” or “feathers” and is so named because of this shape. We associate quills with feather pens and writing. Many saints who were writers, doctors, evangelists are depicted holding a quill.

Because of its shape, penne complement virtually every sauce and are exceptional when paired with a chunky sauce. Penne pairs nicely with chunky meat, chunky vegetable, cream, or oil based sauces. It is also a good shape to use for baked dishes.

Red is the vestment color used liturgically for the feast of martyrs and also for the evangelists. St. Mark, whose feast is today was both. Making a dish using the "quill" shaped pasta in a creamy sauce with sun-dried tomatoes will include the symbols both of him as a writer of the Gospel represented by the quill shape and as a martyr/evangelist with the red.   While I chose a sun-dried tomato and cream basse option, any of the marinara sauces would be equally fitting for an evangelist. 
Evangelist Feast Days
St. Mark - April 25
St. Luke - October 18
St. Matthew - September 21
St. John - December 27

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Penne

2 C. dried penne or mini penne pasta
1 T. olive oil
1/2 C. sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 C. cream
1/4 C. freshly grated parmesan
1/2 t. garlic powder

Boil pasta. While waiting for pasta to cook, saute sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil for a few minutes. Add cream and mix. Add parmesan and garlic powder. Mix. Drain pasta and pour sauce over warm pasta. Serves 4.

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Mudrica - St. Joseph's Sawdust

On St. Joseph's feast day in Italy, many pay tribute to the carpenter saint by sprinkling "sawdust" over pasta. There are different variations on the "sawdust" ingredients. This recipe for Mudrica (St. Joseph's Sawdust) is adapted from John Besh's My New Orleans: The Cookbook. You can read more about Mudrica in the archived St. Joseph Altar foods post by Jenn Miller.


1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 T. olive oil
3 tbsp. grated parmesan
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp. dried currants
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch fresh chopped oregano leaves
pinch of salt

Directions: Put all the ingredients in food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times or until the mixture is well combined. Sprinkle over buttered pasta of choice.

St. Joseph, Most Courageous, Pray for us!

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Pesto Tortellini Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day

Looking for an easy and cute lunch idea for St. Patrick's Day. Using frozen tortellini, jarred pesto, and a broccoli stem you can make these fun edible shamrocks.  I had a tri-color package so used both the green and white ones.  You can use a variety of veggies for the stem - broccoli, green bean, celery.

St. Patrick, Pray for us!

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Celtic Knot Graham Cookies

This graham flour cookie is a festive treat for St. Patrick's Day or any other Irish saint feast day tea party. 

Celtic Knot Graham Cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups graham flour
3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Sift flours, baking soda and salt into large bowl.  Beat butter in another large bowl at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add brown sugar and beat together. Add molasses and beat until fluffy.  Add egg and beat until well blended.  Reduce speed to low and add vanilla.  Add flour mixture and graham cracker crumbs and beat on low speed just to blend.

Wrap ball of dough in plastic wrap.  Chill until firm, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
Sprinkle work surface with flour and roll out 1/2 of dough. Refrigerate unused portion.

Roll lengths of dough into ropes and, working on a parchment-lined baking sheet, twist them into knots as shown.  I printed out a 3 inch celtic knot clipart to use as a template and place under the parchment paper. 

Bake in pre-heated oven (350° F) for 8-12 minutes.  Let cool on pan until firm enough to transfer to wire racks. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool completely.  Makes about 2 dozen, 3-inch knot cookies.

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Meatless Meals :: Chunky Tuna Salad Wraps

I just finished sharing this recipe for one of my new favorite meatless meals over at Shower of Roses and decided I'd share it here at Catholic Cuisine as well! I hope you are all having a blessed Lent!

 Chunky Tuna Salad Wraps
adapted from The Healing Kitchen

Directions and Ingredients:
  • 2 - 5oz cans Wild Planet Albacore Tuna (I buy it at Costco.) 
  • 2/3 cup red grapes, quartered
  • 2/3 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Mix all ingredients together until well combined.

Make Avocado Mayo:  (Note: I halve the cookbook's recipe and use the following.)
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Place avocado in blender. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until combined. Add the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.

Add 1/2 cup Avocado Mayo to Chunky Tuna Salad. Mix until combined.
  • Baby Spinach or Mixed Greens
  • Paleo Wraps - Original or Tumeric (I've had my eye on these ever since I started my AIP diet last March... My husband convinced me to splurge on them during one of our recent grocery shopping date nights. I love them and it's so nice to be able to eat a wrap made with something more than just lettuce again!) 

Place a bed of baby spinach or mixed greens and a scoop or two of chunky tuna on top of a Paleo Wrap and roll up.

Serve with Inka Plantain Chips.

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Meatless for Lent - Tortellini Soup

If you are looking for an easy and tasty idea for meatless meals for Lent, this is one that we recently tried and really enjoyed. It will become a meatless staple for us.  

Creamy Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup


1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (32 oz) container vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
2 (9 oz) packages frozen cheese tortellini
Grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, for garnish, optional


In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves and crushed red pepper flakes.

Add diced tomatoes and vegetable broth. Stir in fresh basil, Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves from the pot. Use a hand immersion blender to blend the soup (or carefully transfer soup to a blender to blend and return to the pot). Stir in sour cream until well combined. Stir in the cheese tortellini and cook on medium-low until tortellini is cooked, approx. 8 minutes. Serve warm.

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Hearty Peasant Fare for Blessed Jacinta and Francisco

February 20 marks the  anniversary of the date of the death of Jacinta Marto, one of the Fatima seers. Jacinta and her brother Francisco were the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Church. The brother and sister, who tended to their family's sheep with their cousin Lucia Santo in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, witnessed the apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as Our Lady of Fatima.  We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the apparitions which will be commemorated next year, 2017. Thinking of Fatima and its upcoming centenary, I wanted share some ideas for this feast of the Bl. Jacinta and Francisco.
My husband’s family is Portuguese so I like to try to learn some of the common dishes associated with the country and culture. Portugal is known for its rustic peasant style cooking – food from the land. It is simple and doesn’t take much equipment to prepare, but it is always flavorful and comforting. As Bl. Jacinta and Francisco were shepherds the peasant foods like this would likely be common for their family.
Caldo verde, or green soup, considered by some as “Portugal's national dish” is a homey dish of potatoes, thinly sliced kale, and smoky pork sausage. Linguica is the preferred Portuguese sausage if you can find it. I was able to get it at a specialty meat market.  Readers often mention looking for healthy recipes for feast days. With kale being such a current super food, high in organosulphur compounds, vitamin A, vitamin C, B6, manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium.  I hope you find this addition one for the healthy (and hearty) category.

Caldo Verde - Portuguese Green Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
3 or 4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 quarts water
6-8 ounces linguiça (or other sausage)
¾ - 1 pound kale, washed, trimmed of the thick stems and thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Prick the sausages with a fork and add to the boiling water. Boil for about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the sausages to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, slice them.

In a medium soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add onions and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until tender and translucent, but not browned. Add potatoes, water and salt. Cover and boil gently over medium heat for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a skillet cook sausage slices until most of the fat is rendered out. Drain and reserve.

Scoop out about 2 cups of the potatoes and mash well. Return potatoes to pan, add the sliced sausages and simmer about 5 minutes more. Add the greens, stir well and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook; the greens should be bright green and slightly crunchy. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and drizzle each serving evenly with extra-virgin olive oil. Serves 6

Broa - Portuguese Cornbread

2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2  t. sugar
1⁄4 c. warm water
1 1⁄2 c. cornmeal, finely ground
2  t. salt
1  c. boiling water
1⁄4 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2  c. all-purpose flour, plus
1  T. coarse salt
Combine the yeast, sugar, and the warm water in a large bowl until the yeast is dissolved and foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal and salt with the boiling water. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon to blend. Allow to stand for a few minutes for the cornmeal to soften and cool to room temperature. Add the melted butter and mix to incorporate. Now, pour the yeast mixture into the cornmeal mixture, stirring to combine. Gradually add the flour, mixing well after each addition. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the dough feels dry and doesn't come together easily. Continue to mix until a dough forms into a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Grease a large bowl with oil and place dough to the bowl, brush the top with more oil.  Cover with kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, between 1-2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead briefly, 3 or 4 times, to punch out the air. Gather the dough into a ball and shape it into a round loaf. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and place a pizza stone in the oven to heat up. Put the dough round on the pizza stone and brush the top with oil. Sprinkle the top of the bread with coarse salt. Bake in middle of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes until the bread is golden brown and bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, Pray for us!

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