Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Frittata & St. Joseph's Day

In New Orleans, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with its Italian brother, St. Joseph's Day.  There is an Irish Italian parade to celebrate the March 17th & 19th holidays, respectively. Sicilian St. Joseph's Day is observed with altars dedicated to patron Saint Joseph who prevented a famine in Sicily.  As the holiday falls during lent, meatless dishes are offered — primarily ornate breads and pastries.  But, frittatas are often a heartier staple. 

Frittata Recipe 

This week's recipe was given to me by my mom, thank you!

Grease or line ceramic or glass deep dish pan, 9x13 inches for strata (frittata layers). 

1. Strata [whatever you’re going to pour the egg mixture over and bake]:

3 to 4 cups Cooked and Browned diced potatoes or hash browns
Rosemary, basil and garlic shaken over potato layer
Coarse sea salt and black pepper ground over potato layer

Cubed, blanch, and pat-dry 1 large eggplant. Brown lightly, and then layer over potatoes.  Slice ripe 3-4 medium tomatoes and pat dry. Layer enough tomatoes to cover eggplant cubes.

1/2 to 1 onion, thin sliced & browned, layered over tomato
2 cups shredded cheese, Italian blend of Asiago/Parmesan/Provolone/Romano
Garnish with fresh herbs: rosemary & thyme sprigs and leaves of fresh basil.

2. Strain over strata: Eggs mixture whisked lightly together:
1 pint (2 cups) dairy liquid, choice of
Rich: whipping cream
Regular: whole milk
Skinnynonfat UNSWEETENED evaporated milk, or Hood’s Simply Smart Fat Free Milk
6 eggs, or:
                  Skinny: Original Eggbeaters equivalent to 6 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp.  Dry rosemary, thyme and garlic in combination to taste

3.  Prepare the Frittata:
Let egg mixture soak the strata, 4 hours to overnight, for best results, in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven, 450F ceramic/425F glass. Bake 20 minutes on high temperature, reduce to 375 and check in 15 minutes.  Bake until top bubbly, browned and knife inserted comes out clean.  It may need to bake a total of 35 to 50 minutes, depending on oven and ingredient variations.

St. Joseph's Day 

When I got home from Pittsburgh & D.C., I had a sweet gift from one of my National Geographic oral history subjects.  (You may remember some of my other subjects showered me with kindness, cards, a cake and figs.) The package on my doorstep contained blessed St. Joseph's fava beans — the shamrock of St. Joseph's Day. 

You see the fava bean is an important symbol of the holiday because they were the crop used by St. Joseph to save Sicily from famine.  When all the other fruits failed, St. Joseph answered prayers with the fava bean.  The tradition now goes that you cannot go hungry if you have a fava bean.  So, many New Orleanians keep the St. Joseph's beans around all year as sort of a good luck charm.  

Me posing with a fava bean during a Nat Geo phody session.
The beans definitely came at a time when they were needed.  As many of you know, 2013 has not been my year.  With more changes on the horizon, I'll be keeping my fava beans with me.  Not just as a symbol for luck, but a symbol of my project and all the hard work I have behind me — and ahead. 

Thank you to the kind participant who sent the beans.  And best of luck on all of your wonderful future endeavors! 


  1. lady. that looks delicious! I might have to give it a try! and I love the fava bean folklore! I had actually never heard of St. Joseph's Day or the magic of fava beans...but I think it is all just lovely.

    and I love that picture of you with your good luck bean.

    1. I heard about St. Joseph's through my New Orleans/Catholic grandma. But, since we aren't Italian I had never really participated. I just think they are wonderful and the food looks amazing. I put a magic bean in all of my purses, so no matter the outfit I'll have good luck :)


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