August 15th in Italy
Ferragosto, the 15th of August is one of Italy’s most cherished holidays. Everything closes on this holiday and families get together and celebrate. Here in the States Catholics know this day as the Feast of the Assumption of Mary and celebrate by going to Mass. But Italians who hold on to traditions will likely gather together and celebrate with a family meal. It can be as simple as Antipasto followed by grilled vegetables and Spiedies (marinated small cuts of meat that are grilled). Some will also include Lasagna and many fancy desserts. At night they will enjoy fireworks.
In Montefollonico, the little town where my grandfather and my father were born, I still have many relatives which I am fortunate to get to visit every two years or so.
An interesting occurrence happens in Montefollonico on August 15th. Mass is celebrated in the little Church “Chiesa di Triano” which was built in 1609 to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mass is only celebrated in this beautiful little Church on August 15th and is closed for the remainder of the year when Mass is then celebrated in Pieve di San Leonardo built in the 13th century and it is in this Church that my grandparents were married and my Dad and my Uncle were baptized.
Growing up in New York we celebrated with all those foods. Here our family adopted a favorite that we tried several years ago:
Pasta with Sausage and Peppers
- 3 Tbs. Olive Oil
- 3 Garlic Cloves – minced
- 1 Medium Onion – chopped
- ½ Cup Red Wine (use a wine that you would enjoy drinking)
- 1 28oz Can San Marzano Tomatoes
- 1 Cup Roasted Sweet Peppers, red, or yellow – cut into strips
- 4-5 Links Italian Sweet Sausage – sliced on the diagonal
- 6 Tbs Fresh Basil – finely chopped
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Lb Rigatoni
- Freshly Grated Cheese – your choice
- In a large pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and then add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes until soft and fragrant.
- Add the onions and continue cooking until they become soft and translucent.
- Add the wine and cook simmer until you can no longer smell the alcohol.
- Next add the tomatoes, peppers, sausage, and basil.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. A little Pepperoncini is also a good thing to add if you like a little spice.
- Cook for about 20-30 minutes on a lower heat.
- When that is almost ready to serve bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and pasta and cook al dente’.
- Drain and then add to the large pan with the peppers and sausage turning to coat.
- At the table, pass a little extra virgin olive oil and the grated cheese.
A good red wine and Cannoli or Italian Rum Cake for dessert and it’s a Feast.
BUON FESTA e BUON MANGIATA!