What Italian Americans eat when celebrating St. Januarius

Between the 1880 and 1924, well over four million Italians immigrated into the United States. It is estimated that half of them came between the years of 1900 and 1910. They came seeking a new prosperous life with new opportunities. Many Italians had high hopes of coming back to Italy with enough money to purchase land and a decent home to create a stable living. A large portion of the immigrants came from rural farming families. The equipment they were using was past its prime. The taxes were high and with several droughts it created multiple hardships and they knew by coming to the United States a better future was possible. They wanted to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate Saint Januarius, the Patron Saint of Naples. His feast day is Sept. 19 in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. It is celebrated in the United States every year and is known as “The San Gennaro Festival.”

If you have an exciting recipe to share in 2019, then please send it to me at P.O. Box 693 Leeds, Alabama 35094

-Andrew M. Armstrong


Italian 7 Layer Rainbow Cookies

2 Cups of all purpose flour

4 eggs yolks

4 egg whites

1 Cup of sugar

8 ounces of butter, room temperature

3/4 Pound of almond paste

4 ounces of semi-sweet Bakers chocolate

Colors: green & red


Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. In a stand mixer add the egg yolks and the butter, and mix well. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the almond paste and mix well. Break up the almond paste in small chunks before adding it to the mixer, so that it mixes quicker. Add the flour and mix well. Beat the egg whites with a fork until they get a little foamy and add them to the mixer. Mix for a few minutes, until you have a soft and uniform dough. Take the dough, divide it in 3 equal parts, and put it in three separate bowls. The dough in one bowl should be left white.

The dough of one of the other bowls should be colored green, and the other one red. Add as much food color as you like until you get the color tone that you prefer. Evenly spread the mixes in three separate, ungreased aluminum baking sheets (12″x8″). Bake each one at 375 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. Let them all cool off. Put a piece of parchment paper on a wood board and deposit the green sheet. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam over the entire surface of the green sheet.

Place the white sheet on top of the green sheet. Spread apricot jam on the white surface as well. Deposit the red sheet over the white and with your hands press well so that the three sheets will stick together. With a serrated knife trim all four edges of the tricolor sheets. Met the chocolate and spread it over the top of the sheets.

Let the chocolate dry, preferably overnight, turn upside down and spread melted chocolate over the other side. Let the chocolate dry and cut the cookies into pieces of about 1 1/2″ x 1/2″ or as big as you prefer.


Italian Bolognese Sauce

2 Pounds beef, ground

1/4 Pound speck, diced (Speck is a smoked prosciutto)

1 large Vidalia onion (or 2 large yellow onions)

1 teaspoon of sugar (for sauteing onions)

4 Tablespoons of canola oil (for sauteing)

3 carrots, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

5 bay leaves

11/2 Tablespoons thyme

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 Tablespoon of basil

1 Cup of a full bodied red wine (Primativo, Montepulciano, Chianti, etc.)

1 28-ounce can of tomatoes, crushed

1 6-ounce can of tomato paste

1 Cup heavy cream

Heat the canola in a large stock pot, then add the onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle in the sugar. Saute on medium heat until onions are translucent. Add the diced Speck and sauté for 1 minute, then add the diced garlic. Cook for another minute or two, but don’t burn the garlic. Add the ground beef and cook on a low to moderate flame, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. You can add the other seasonings at this point. As the meat cooks, turn over the mixture to allow for equal browning and distribution of the spices. Turn up the flame and add the wine. Using a flat bottom wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated from the wine.

Turning the flame down to a medium, add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, and combine well into the meat/vegetable mixture. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Next, add the heavy cream, mix, then turn the flame down to simmer (use a smaller back burner, or use a heat diffuser plate under your pot). Simmer, stirring occasionally and cook for 3 hours covered. Then, remove the lid and continue simmering for another hour or until the sauce thickens considerably (making sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn). If you feel like your sauce hasn’t thickened enough, you can always use the old Italian Nonna trick…toss in a handful or two of breadcrumbs).


Pasta Fagiole

1 Pound of elbow macaroni

1 can of tomatoes

1/4 Cup of olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

Parsley to taste

Oregano to taste

2 cans of White Northern beans

1 onion, chopped

1 can of tomato paste

1 Cup of water

Salt to taste

Brown the onion and garlic in the oil. In a bowl mash the tomatoes and combine with the oregano, salt and parsley. Add the paste and water. Pour the mixture into the pan with the browned onion and garlic. Cook for 1 hour. Add in the beans and cook 10 to 15 minutes. Cook elbow macaroni according to the box directions. Drain the noodles very well and add to the sauce.


Venice Clams with Pasta

1 stick of butter

1/4 Cup of olive oil

1 bunch of green onions, chopped

1 Tablespoon of fresh garlic

2 tender (middle) celery stalks, chopped

1/2 a Bell pepper, chopped fine

1/4 Cup of flour

1 bottle of clam juice (8 Ounces)

1 Cup of white wine

1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon of marjoram

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped

The Juice from 1 lemon

1 can of quartered artichoke hearts with juice (14 Ounces)

2 cans of whole baby clams with juice

Salt & pepper to taste

1 Ounce of sherry

Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the green onions, garlic, celery and Bell pepper, until soft. Add in flour to coat vegetables and stir to avoid sticking for 1 minute. Add the clam juice, wine, Italian seasoning, marjoram, red pepper and parsley. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cook 3 to 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Add in the artichokes, clams, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sherry and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve this over angel hair pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Cavatelli and Spinach

3 – 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced

2/3 Cup of olive oil

1 Pound of cavatelli

1 box frozen creamed spinach (16 Ounces or 2 of the 10 Ounce boxes)

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic in oil. Cook the creamed spinach according to the package directions. Cook the cavatelli in boiling water according to the tenderness you prefer. Pour the cooked creamed spinach into the garlic and oil and mix well. Pour in the drained cavatelli and mix.


Traditional Pasta Dough

2 Cups of flour

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

2 Tablespoons of water, or as needed

In a mixer beat the flour, eggs, olive oil, and salt together in a bowl. Add in the water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to the flour mixture, until a smooth and very thick dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it for 10 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 balls and use a pasta machine to roll and cut dough into desired pasta shape.




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