Many people around the world celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph, or La Festa di San Giuseppe. The feast’s roots date back to the Middle Ages, when Sicily, Italy underwent a major drought with a massive famine. The locals prayed to their patron saint, St. Joseph, to bring them relief in the form of rain. They promised to honor St. Joseph with a feast if he answered their prayers.
The holiday is observed on March 19 during Lent. There are many traditional foods eaten during the feast, including eggplant, fava bean soup and zeppola, a Neapolitan pastry. During the celebration meatless entrees are traditionally served with breadcrumbs representing sawdust since St. Joseph was a carpenter.
Grilled Eggplant with Marinara Sauce and St. Joseph’s Sawdust
Two 7 to 9 inch eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices
1 jar marinara sauce, your favorite brand
2 cups panko
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Slice eggplants and brush both sides with olive oil. Set gas grill on high heat. Clean then oil grate. Reduce heat to medium. Place eggplant slices on grill and cook 10 to 12 minutes turning halfway through the time. Keep grill lid down when not turning the eggplant. When eggplant bends easily and has grill marks it is cooked. Remove eggplant from grill and cut into bite size pieces. Place in a bowl or decorative platter.
Heat marinara sauce in the microwave. While marinara sauce is heating melt butter in a skillet. Add panko and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the panko is golden brown. Stir in Italian seasoning.
To serve, place eggplant on a platter. Spoon marinara sauce on top and sprinkle with sawdust. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of the sawdust. Happy Cooking!
Published in The News and Neighbor on June 1, 2016