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Pasta alla Norma, Roasted Asparagus and Celery Salad

A straightforward Easter menu encouraged by the Mediterranean cooking of exclusively veggies. (Invoice St. John, Particular to The Denver Submit)

What is Easter with no a haunch of ham or leg of lamb? (For all those born due to the fact Watergate, “haunch” is a interesting aged expression for “large close of animal meat with a bone in it.”)

Properly, it is still Easter, with or without meat. Or even eggs. Here’s a simple Easter menu motivated by the Mediterranean cooking of only greens.

The centerpiece is pasta alla Norma, nonetheless all over again a Sicilian eggplant-centric planning this sort of as caponata or what they refer to basically as “parmigiana.” I choose to roast, somewhat than fry, my chunks of eggplant. Undertaking so minimizes their oil saturation and also renders them into minimal pillows of pudding.

Also, the preference of pasta shape is essential. Tubular designs allow for the chunky parts of the thick sauce to mystery them selves inside of the pasta. Scrumptious.

No other vegetable alerts “spring” so a lot as asparagus, in this article also roasted, but also brightened with sufficient curlicues of lemon rind, some of it roasted along with into sweetness, others zesty and new.

Eventually, an all-celery salad. When I was increasing up and observed “pascal” (sometimes Pascal or Paschal) celery in the make part, I considered, understandably, that the adjective experienced anything to do with Easter, or even Passover. “Pascal” will come by way of Aramaic, Hebrew (pesach), Greek (pascha) and ecclesiastical Latin (paschalis), all referring possibly to Passover or Easter.

When individuals languages, in their historical occasions, had been churning out the terms that we would later inherit as ours, “celery” and “parsley” ended up frequently perplexed, in some cases being referred to as by the identical identify. (It’s quick to see why when you seem at the leaves of each and every — they appear equivalent — primarily flat-leaf or “Italian” parsley. Indeed, the vegetation are botanically similar)

And at Passover seders, possibly celery or parsley were being (and are) utilised as each a sign of spring and new daily life, as well as currently being dipped into the brine or vinegar that alone symbolizes the tears of the Jews fleeing Pharoah.

So, a third Easter vegetarian recipe that utilizes all sections of the celery plant, as nicely as some of its relative’s (flat-leaf parsley’s) leaves.

Pasta Alla Norma. (Monthly bill St. John, Special to The Denver Publish)

Pasta alla Norma

Legend has it that this significantly-favored Sicilian vegetarian pasta preparation is named immediately after Vincenzo Bellini’s opera “Norma.” Bellini was born in Catania, Sicily, in November 1801. Sicilians deal with eggplant as a ready substitute for meat or fish: it is a hearty vegetable, retains up in cooking and is developed all more than the island. Serves 3-4.


  • 1 large or 2 medium purple eggplants, partly peeled and slice into 1-inch squares, 4-5 cups
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons more virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried Aleppo pepper flakes (or 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon Mexican-design and style crimson pepper flakes, to flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly floor black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and approximately chopped (about 2 cups raw) or the equivalent in good excellent canned tomatoes
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound medium-sized, brief tubular dried pasta (ziti, pennoni, mezzi rigatoni, paccheri, ditali or the like)
  • A wedge of ricotta salata
  • Chopped contemporary flat-leaf parsley or chiffonade of basil, for garnish


Warmth the oven to 400 degrees and completely ready a massive baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a significant bowl, insert the pepper flakes, black pepper and salt to the 2/3 cup olive oil and stir together. Incorporate the eggplant cubes to the bowl and toss them to coat. Lay out the cubes on to the baking sheet in a single layer and area in the oven.

Roast the eggplant for 40 minutes, turning the parts in excess of 1-2 periods whilst cooking to even out their browning.

In the meantime, warmth the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet around a medium-higher flame and include the garlic slices, letting them prepare dinner just until finally scorching. Add the tomatoes and cook dinner them down, 6-7 minutes, stirring at times. Insert the tomato paste, smashing every thing and earning a thick sauce. If the eggplant has nonetheless to complete roasting, established the sauce aside.

Set a significant pot of h2o to boiling and prepare dinner the pasta right until just al dente, draining it properly and reserving 1-2 ladlefuls of cooking h2o. To the tomato sauce, incorporate the eggplant, stirring it in carefully, incorporating splashes of pasta cooking drinking water, if necessary, in order to slender the sauce to your liking. (The sauce ought to be thick but not jammy.)

Carefully stir in the pasta and provide, garnished with gratings of ricotta salata and both or each of the inexperienced herbs.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon. (Invoice St. John, Particular to The Denver Post)

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

A side serving for 4-8.


  • 1 pound asparagus spears, very well washed and fibrous ends trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons more virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • Rind from 2 wedges of lemon, pith and flesh slash absent, pith pitched, flesh set apart and rind slivered
  • Refreshing lemon zest, in slivers, not grated, for garnish


Heat the oven to 400 levels. In a massive bowl or baking dish, blend jointly the olive oil, vinegar, seasonings and lemon rind slivers and, in the mix, carefully toss the asparagus spears to coat.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out the spears in 1 layer, making use of a spatula to get all the seasonings and lemon slivers on to the baking sheet. Roast for 7-9 minutes (relying on the spears’ thicknesses), shaking the sheet the moment midway, until the asparagus is a little bit browned but also however somewhat crisp.

When performed, remove the baking sheet away from the warmth and squeeze the juice from the reserved lemon flesh on to the asparagus spears. Serve warm or at area temperature, garnished with clean lemon zest slivers.

An All-Celery Salad. (Bill St. John, Distinctive to The Denver Write-up)

Celery Root, Celery Coronary heart and Celery Leaf Salad

Adapted from, by Diane Morgan serves 4.


For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins

For the salad:

  • 2/3 cup celery root, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 2/3 cup heart of celery (lightest environmentally friendly only), thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed celery leaves
  • 1/4 cup flippantly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves


Make the dressing by whisking or mixing jointly all its elements in a small bowl, preserving back the raisins for a minute. When everything is nicely blended, incorporate the raisins and permit them steep in the dressing for at the very least 15 minutes.

To build the salad, in a big bowl toss together the celery components and the parsley leaves. Whisk the dressing one particular final time and incorporate ample of it to coat the greens very well but not extremely so (you may possibly not need to have all the dressing). Enable the salad sit for 5-10 minutes to blend the flavors, then serve.