In Naples, Easter, like all the so-called feasts commanded (ie the feast days of Christianity), is a jubilation of traditions and delicacies where the solemnity of the sacrament and the joy of spring temperatures are celebrated in the family, gathered around the table spread. Sometimes you are far from your family or you can not celebrate all together, but just go back in time and remember this holiday as it was as children. Let’s see together how to celebrate the Neapolitan Easter.
Immediately after the long Lent that begins on the first Sunday after Mardi Gras and ends on Holy Thursday, we enter in the Holy Week. This period coincides as children even with the beginning of the “Easter holidays”, the short holiday period from school. As adults, however, you think to prepare the best to celebrate Easter Sunday.
On Holy Thursday, according to the Catholic Creed, The Last Supper of Jesus is celebrated. After mass, however, we find ourselves at home and celebrate with a typical dish of the Neapolitan tradition: mussel soup.
Good Friday and Holy Saturday, instead, should be the days of fasting (that of course is almost never respected). We dedicate ourselves to the expenses to buy all the products that cooked properly, make all five senses celebrate.
They procure fresh vegetables and the most appetizing salami to bring family recipes to the table and we dedicate ourselves to the preparation of pastiere and casatielli. Each family has its own traditions, but in general the Easter menu includes specific dishes.
Don’t forget, however, to dedicate your time also to the Easter egg. It doesn’t matter if you are old or young, the chocolate egg is liked at any age.
Today on the market there are all kinds: classic, handmade and stuffed in the most original ways. You must therefore choose the right one because everyone has his tastes and preferences.
The Easter egg is then unwrapped on the morning of Easter Sunday, with great expectation from the little ones who will compete to be the fastest to recover the surprise that hides inside.
Easter at the table
This is how you get to lunch on Easter Sunday when you finally sit at the table and start to taste all the delicacies prepared by the women (even by the most modern men) of the family.
The appetizer for beginning
The typical appetizer of this feast day is a dish rich in salami. We’re talking about the Neapolitan fellata. In fact, it is not just an appetizer but a set of products including ham, salami, capocollo, soppressata and other local cold cuts, accompanied by cheeses, eggs and the inevitable ricotta salata, all with abundant red wine that keeps the mood of the guests high.
The Neapolitan Casatiello
Then we pass to the king of the table: the Casatiello. It can be both sweet, also called Easter pine cone, and salty, a cross between pizza and bread with the characteristic eggs on top, not to be confused with Tortano, where instead they are used to stuff the inside. We’ll talk about it better in our article.
The italian wedding soup
The first dish of Easter Sunday revives an ancient dish of the Neapolitan people. A poor but absolutely special soup, which was for the Neapolitans, their main dish: the wedding soup.
Its name, which means “married” soup, indicates that in this soup it consists of vegetables but also meat and cheese, in a balance to be mouth-watering even those who do not have a moustache!
Let’s prepare together the wedding soup
Ingredients of the wedding soup for 5 people, about 2 kg of soup
It is better if among the vegetables there are
- Swiss chards
- Torzelle (the oldest cabbage in the Mediterranean)
- 1 cabbage
For the broth instead we need
- 1 carrot
- 1 large onion
- 1 celery stalk
- A sprig of parsley
- 6 liters of water
- 1 chicken of about 1 kg (preferably already cleaned)
- 300 g of sausages
- 1 kg of beef
- Salt and grated cheese q.s.
To prepare the traditional italian wedding soup you need time, patience and love. Let’s start with the broth. In a large pot place clean vegetables, chicken and beef cubes. After bringing it to a boil, adjust over low heat and let the broth cook for about 5 hours. From time to time, with the help of a slotted spoon, skim the fat off the broth. If we want to speed up the time we cook everything in a pressure cooker for an hour.
Meanwhile, let’s clean the vegetables and cook in a pot with salt.
When the broth is ready, set aside the meat, bone the chicken and cut the sausages into rounds.
Combine everything in a very large pot and let warm. Meanwhile add the grated cheese that with the heat will become stringy.
There is no simpler and more appreciated delicacy, than the roasted artichoke. Neapolitan Easter tradition but also Sunday treat, the “carcioffola arrustuta” is the spearhead of festive lunches. In the villages or in the suburbs of Naples, it is not difficult to meet on the roadside steaming banquets from which the inviting scent of artichokes cooked directly on the charcoal is released. If we have a barbecue and charcoal (and of course the appropriate space to cook), it will not be difficult to prepare this delight. Be careful though. The roasted artichokes must be categorically of Neapolitan quality, ie the violet artichoke of Castellammare.
Let’s prepare together the Artichoke of Castellammare
To prepare artichokes before roasting them, you need to eliminate excess water. With the fingers, distance the central leaves, widening them to create a space where to put a piece of garlic, parsley leaves and salt to taste.
On the coals they need to cook from thirty minutes to an hour. When they will be seemingly charred, and the central leaves will be quite wrinkled and of a dark green color, then they are ready. Remove the outer leaves and plates.
The Easter lamb
Tradition has it that at Easter you eat lamb. A tradition that has very ancient origins, from the Jewish Easter. Today this custom is gradually disappearing also because some do not like to think that they sacrifice poor little lambs to prepare a dish. Days before the Easter period, animal campaigns against the killing of these puppies are read everywhere. So to prepare the second of the Easter menu some replace this meat with chicken, turkey or pork.
The most traditionalist families, however, on this feast day, prepare the lamb in a pan with peas. But there are those who prefer to cook it roast with potatoes, by using the oven.
Let’s prepare together lamb with peas
To prepare the lamb with peas you need
- 1 kg of meat
- 1 large onion
- 200 g of shelled peas (even those frozen but still recommend that they are fine or very fine)
- Salt and pepper
- A glass (about 200 ml) of white wine
In a frying pan fry the onion in a little oil. Once browned, place the meat in small pieces and brown. When it is dark, season with salt and pepper and simmer with white wine until reduced. Cover the pot and cook over low heat until the meat appears cooked enough and the wine is almost completely evaporated. At this point add the peas and when they will also be cooked, add salt and pepper.
Easter fava beans in Naples: those of Vesuvius
Between one dish and the other or waiting for dessert, on the tables of the Neapolitans on Easter Sunday, can not miss the fava beans. Typical product of this land, Neapolitan fava beans come out in spring, between March and April. These are grown mostly in countries of Vesuvio and have a really peculiar flavor. The high quality of this excellent product, in fact, comes from the place where they are grown: on the volcanic soil rich in minerals and with temperatures mitigated by the proximity of the sea.
The Neapolitan pastiera
Finally we arrive at the long-awaited dessert typical of Easter in Naples: the Neapolitan pastiera. This dessert is really special and has very ancient origins. Legends and stories hover on his account that together with her floral and fresh taste, make her truly exceptional.
There are many versions, so much so that we also had to dedicate to the preparation of the pastiera a separate article. Everyone prepares it following the family recipe. In any case, this is the best way to conclude the Easter lunch.
In Naples, even after Easter Sunday we continue to celebrate. Angel Monday, or Easter Monday, is the day dedicated to outings and the classic trip out of town to enjoy the mild spring temperatures. On a trip it is customary to bring a packed lunch with what is advanced from the meal of the day before, especially if it is the Casatiello.
If this is not possible, then all that remains is to sit down again at the table and continue to be enchanted by the tasty Easter dishes and maybe also enjoy the Colomba, sweet invented in Milan in the Thirties of the 900.