The saying goes: “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” – Christmas with family, Easter with whom you please, which is why an Italian Easter is more of a casual affair. Whilst we will always take every opportunity to eat excellent food in the company of our family and friends, the rules on what to serve for Easter lunch are more relaxed than at Christmas. Traditionally, at Easter, we gather around a simple, delicious dish of baked pasta, bubbling with cheese. If we know we’ve got lots of friends coming over, we prepare the dish in advance so that it can be quickly popped into the oven.
Mortadella and Mozzarella Pasta Bake (Serves 6)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 60ml
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Minced Pork or Quorn – 400g
Dry White Wine – 300ml
Cherry Tomato Sauce – 150g
Grilled Pepper Pesto – 100g
Wholemeal Farfalle – 350g
Mortadella – 160g, cut into strips
Eggs – 2 large
Salt – to taste
Basil – 2 finely chopped tablespoons
Parsley – 2 finely chopped tablespoons
Mozzarella – 250g, cut into bite-size pieces
Parmigiano Reggiano – 120g, grated
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a large saucepan and warm. Add the Onion and Garlic and cook over a moderately high heat until soft. To this, add either Minced Pork or Quorn and cook until browned. Stir in the Dry White Wine and cook until evaporated. Add the Cherry Tomato Sauce and Grilled Pepper Pesto, adding Salt to taste, cook until thickened. Preparation will be approximately 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a smaller saucepan, boil your Eggs for 8 minutes, drain and cool under running water, peel and finely chop.
- Boil the Wholemeal Farfalle, following package instructions. Drain and stir into the sauce together with the Basil, Parsley, Chopped Eggs, Mortadella, Mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano – save some cheese for later.
- Transfer the Wholemeal Farfalle to a ceramic baking dish and scatter the remaining Mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
This dish can be prepared the night before and left in the fridge until you are ready to bake and serve.
Other Italian Easter traditions include attending mass and street festivals in the lead up to Easter – Italy is very much still steeped in tradition.
We paint hard boiled Eggs in beautiful and bright colours, something we do together as a family because the children love it so much. This tradition dates back to Roman times, where Dairy and Meat were off the menu during Lent. Eggs would be hard boiled, so as not to waste food, decorated with vegetable dyes and given as gifts.
If you are more of a sweet than savoury person, we Italians take our chocolate very seriously too. The giving of chocolate eggs is also popular as in the UK, but we have bigger eggs and there’s always a surprise gift in the middle! At Diforti, we have plenty of chocolate-filled treats to choose from, such as our Sicilian Cannoli filled with Hazelnut Chocolate Cream, Aragostine with White Chocolate Cream or our Baci Di Dama, which are gorgeous bites of hazelnut biscuit, filled with dark chocolate cream – perfect to indulge in, or gift, this Easter.
We plan to spend Easter in good company, with great food on the table, and hope you will be doing the same.
Buona Pasqua! Seasons greetings from Diforti