Easter week in the kitchen

Artichokes "alla giudia" are a traditional Italian dish with Judaic origins

It is nice — and unsurprising — to know that in this period of reflection and prayer, Italians have never quite forgotten about their kitchens. And so, we learn that the  first Easter chocolate eggs were created in Turin in the 18th century: and it couldn’t be any different, when  you think this elegant city is one of Italy’s chocolate capitals (Perugia and Modica being the other two). 

Just a handful of kilometers south, in Genoa, quaresimali have been made with water, sugar and almond paste since before the 18th century, throughout Lent and for Easter. As it often happens for traditional sweet concoctions, it was local nuns who invented them. 

In the  South, in Calabria, many make the campanari, traditional Easter cookies with butter, eggs, milk, lemon and vanilla. In their middle, a full egg — shell in place! — is usually baked. Campanari, mind, are a good treat also for Pasquetta, Italy’s true beginning of Spring, when we love sharing picnics and barbecues with family and friends. 

And it isn’t a real Pasquetta without a torta di Pasqua,  a savory pie filled with a variety of vegetables, eggs and cheese. The original one, Liguria’s torta Pasqualina, has fresh  cheese similar to ricotta, chards, nutmeg, parmesan and eggs, held into a delicate pastry shell. 

Early Spring, when usually Easter falls, is also an important spiritual moment for followers of Judaism, as Passover is celebrated. Italy has  been home to the  most ancient Jewish community in Europe for something like 2000 years: no wonder, then, that Italian Jews have developed their own dishes for this important celebration. Just look up carciofi alla giudia (deliciously deep fried artichokes) or spinaci con pinoli e passerine (spinach with pine nuts and raisins) to see what we mean. 

But the queen of the Italian Easter table its her, Her Majesty the cassata. It may be  more typical in Sicily than everywhere else, but its sweet soul made of almonds, ricotta and candied fruit, and its beautiful jewel-like colors, are just like you would expect something Italian to be: beautiful, delicate, tempting and delicious. 


And, for goodness’ sake, forget diets this Sunday: celebrate Easter, celebrate Spring, celebrate your family, celebrate the magnificent food of Italy.


Wear your comfy pants, and Happy Easter to you all!

Receive More Stories Like This In Your Inbox



Italy’s lighthouses – new lights for old treasures

There seems to be a shared fascination with lighthouses the world over. These austere pillars of hope and guidance, most often planted on precarious...

The neglected gem of Italy’s heel: Bari

Puglia needs no special introduction. Its sea, the baroque grandeur of Lecce, its olive oil and fresh cheeses: all in the region of Italy’s “heel”...

Which side are you on? The many rivalries of Italy

The very fact you’re reading this article right now means you are or feel connected in some way to Italy and that you, very likely, love this amazing...

Guess who’s coming for dinner: did the Romans really make it to America?

We all know when and how the American continent was discovered — let us not delve into the unnerving diatribe about “discovering” vs “conquering”...

Tracing the origins of pasta

There are great love affairs that permeate the ages: Anthony and Cleopatra, Rhett and Scarlet, Samson and Delilah…Everyone and Pasta. There’s...

Weekly in Italian

Recent Issues