Even if the official calendar date for St. Joseph’s feast day falls on March 19th, festivities are usually observed on the Sunday that comes closest. As this day also corresponds with the celebration of the Festa del Papà (Father’s Day), italian dads are no doubt sitting down to a special Sunday lunch in their honor. The most famous treat for dad’s sweet tooth are zeppole – fried bigné filled with custard and topped with cherries preserves – amazing treats if you can source a reputable baker, but in favor of something savory over sweet, I wanted to try this sicilian dish made with a variety of green vegetables.
The word pasticcio essentially means mess, as in che pasticcio! (what a mess!), and I have no explanation as to how this cornucopia of garden flavors came to be created as a special treat for San Giuseppe. Was he fond of green vegetables? Did a sicilian home cook wind up with a bounty of produce? All I can say is that this is one of the tastiest surprises to end up on the italian table.
pie dough for 9-inch double crust
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
Leafy tops from 2 fennel bulbs, chopped
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 pound frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 pound frozen artichoke hearts, quartered
2 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked in hot water and squeezed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 sprig mint leaves
Few leaves fresh basil
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Beaten egg for brushing onto pie crust
Preheat oven to 380° F. Saute onion in a small amount of olive oil until fragrant. Add the celery and fennel tops, and continue to cook until softened. Next add the peas, spinach and artichokes. Cook for another 5 minutes, adding some water if necessary to keep the mixture from sticking; season to taste with salt and pepper. Tear the fresh mint and basil into small pieces. Add to the cooked vegetables along with the raisins and pine nuts. Set aside to cool completely (can be made in advance).
Divide pie dough into 2 portions and roll out to desired thickness. Mound vegetable mixture in the center, leaving a 2-inch border for the edge. Cover with the top crust and fold edges over to seal. The style that I’ve seen is like a free-form rustic tart, but there’s nothing wrong with doing any shape (as I’ve done with a rectangular tart pan), or even making smaller individual tarts. Brush crust with beaten egg and cut a few tiny slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.