Lily Pasta Santa Caterina


April 29 (new) and April 30 (traditional) are the feasts of St. Catherine of Siena. Last night I ended up serving Pasta Santa Caterina for dinner. This time I made it with lily shaped pasta (Capanelle, also referred to as gigli or riccioli, translates to little bells or bellflowers) from Trader Joe's, since I had given some to our children in this year's family Easter Basket.


The lily symbolizes purity. Its stoic structure, pure white color, and delicately sweet aroma attribute to qualities of royalty, purity, and chastity. It is the symbolic flower of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is sometimes depicted with other saints (including St. Catherine of Siena) who possess these qualities. A lily among thorns represents the Immaculate Conception as the purity of the Virgin is preserved among the fallen nature of the world. Legend says that the lily originated from Eve’s tears when she and Adam were banished from the Garden of Eden. Another legend claims that lilies sprang up from the ground when drops of blood fell to the foot of the Cross. During the Easter season, many churches line their altars with Easter Lilies to signify the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.

This pasta would also be perfect for tomorrow's feast (May 1, St. Joseph the Worker) since the lily is also one of the symbols for St. Joseph.



Pasta Santa Caterina

Ingredients:
  • 2 lb. ripe tomatoes 
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh Basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp. garlic minced
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I omitted this and it was still great) 
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 lb. gigli pasta 

Directions:

Peel tomatoes, remove seeds and dice.

In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients except the pasta.
Marinate at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, until tender. Drain thoroughly, and transfer pasta to a heated serving dish. Add the sauce and toss.

Serves 8 to 10.


St. Catherine of Siena, ora pro nobis! 

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Lady Kisses for Lady Day


The solemnity of the Annunciation is also known in some places as Lady Day. When I first saw these little bite-sized Italian cookies called, baci di dama or "lady’s kisses", I thought of them as an option for this day - Lady Day. I can imagine them being Our Lady's kisses - kisses Our Lady would have bestowed on her sweet son. The name originates from the cookie’s resemblance to two lips holding together like a kiss. These Italian cookies are common for feast days in Italy - especially St. Joseph. Most years St. Joseph's feast day and the Annunciation are a week apart, so making double at that time could cover both feasts. Though this year the feast is abrogated to April 9 because its traditional date fell on Palm Sunday. 
The outer cookies are delicate and usually made of almond or hazelnut flour. The hazelnut version is from the city of Cuneo (where Nutella comes from), and the almond ones are from the town of Tortona.  There are some different variations of the recipe available. This is adapted from the Martha Stewart recipe. 
Our Lady's Kisses
Ingredients:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, fine
2/3 cup almond (or hazelnut) flour
3/4 cup unbleached wheat flour
pinch of salt
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat 7 tablespoons butter with sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon zest, then both flours and salt; beat until a dough starts to form. Transfer to a work surface; knead until a firm dough forms, 1 minute.

Scoop 1 level teaspoon of dough; roll into a ball. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing balls 1 inch apart. Place in freezer about 15 minutes, until firm.  Melt chocolate and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Let cool until thick and spreadable.

Bake cookies until domed and light golden, about 16 minutes. Let cool completely. Spread 1/2 teaspoon chocolate mixture on flat side of one cookie; sandwich with flat side of a second. Repeat with remaining cookies. Let chocolate set before serving.

I found this litany poem by G.K. Chesterton which speaks of a kiss and the mystic rose – a reference to Mary (as are all the symbols in this poem). So beautiful and definitely brings to mind the image I was imagining between Mother and the Child Jesus. 

A Little Litany by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven—and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In that strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment's hem
God, grown adventurous from all time's repose,
Or your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.

Note: I also think these little cookies would be fitting for the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) as she is believed to be the woman who washed with her tears, anointed with oil and kissed the feet of Christ. She is often depicted kissing Christ's feet. Lady Kisses could represent her as well.


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