Easter is a very special time for celebration in Italy, as most Italians are Catholics or Christians.
The Easter season begins with Carnevale, which technically starts in January the day after Epifania, followed by Ash Wednesday (Mercoledi delle Cenere) and Lent (la Qauresima).
The week before Easter is called Holy Week in the Catholic Church. During this week, processions are held in the streets, often re-enacting the story of Jesus Christ, and special Masses are held. This culminates in Good Friday, or Venerdì Santo. The national holiday is officially Easter Sunday or Pasqua, followed by Easter Monday, or Pasquetta.
The week before Easter, Italians will say their “good byes” when leaving a group with the phrase, “Buona Pasqua!”
The Italian Easter Sunday is a day for the family to gather and attend church, followed by a special meal that is rich in the eggs and dairy that families in the past centuries were obligated to “give up” during the Lenten period.
The method for making traditional Sicilian Easter cheesecake given here is made in my family hometown of Ragusa, Sicily, and was passed on from my grandmother to my mother here in America. It is a very rich dessert and is still a family favorite on Easter.
I’d love to hear from you after your family has tried this recipe!
Italian Easter traditions are unique to each region of the country and have been lovingly handed down within families through the generations. Ricotta cheesecake, a version of which was first served by the Romans centuries ago, has come to play a part in the Easter celebration in Sicily as well.
The recipe given below is for a Sicilian Easter cheesecake—actually a “ricotta pie,” made with a sweet Italian pie crust and sweet ricotta and farro wheat filling. It has been passed down through the years within my father’s family from the town of Ragusa in Sicily. If you would like to see how the lattice pie crust top is assembled, visit the Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest site.
Farro wheat is one of the oldest forms of natural wheat grown in southern Italy and has been enjoyed by Italians for centuries. This whole-wheat grain is added to the ricotta filling as a symbol of renewal, along with dried fruit left over from winter stores and traditional Sicilian flavorings, in order to create a rich texture and a perfectly balanced sweet citrus and cinnamon flavor. Try it this Easter for a taste of Italian tradition! —Kathryn Occhipinti
Click on the link here for the recipe: Traditional Sicilian Sweet Farro Wheat Pie Buon apetito!