Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Festa della Donna" Celebrate With An "Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie"

“La Festa della Donna, “is also called “International Women’s Day,” and it is celebrated on March 8th, which honors the equality of all women. This holiday originates from ancient Rome to celebrate the first day of Spring and the goddess called Ariadne. It is also a day of remembrance for women all over the world, but especially for those women who perished in a New York cotton textile factory fire. These women were protesting substandard working conditions on March 8, 1908. The owner blocked all the doors of the factory to prevent the workers from going on strike and leaving. There was an arson and all 129 women were trapped inside the burning building and died, mostly they were Italian immigrants.
 Textile Mill

Festa della Donna is also known to commemorate both the social, political, economic achievements, and rights of women all across the world. In Italy, this celebration was held for the first time in 1911. The “Women’s Day” was first celebrated in the United States in 1909. Italy honors women by parades and some political events. It is similar to Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. But mostly Italian men step up their wishes to any women they encounter. They say with feeling and expression Auguri alle signore! This means “Best Wishes to the Ladies”. With that being said, the men in Italy, (the country of romance and food) prepare special dishes and baked goods for the women in their life. Whether it is their wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, sister or daughter, they celebrate with respect and gratitude towards these women.  

Mom & Dad 1952
There is another custom for this day, which men present flowers to the women in their lives. This custom started in Italy, some sources say, Rome in 1946. The particular flower of choice is called the Mimosa, and was chosen by Italian feminists. It is also said that women have started to give each other the flower as a sign of solidarity and support for many oppressed women in the world. This flower was chosen because of its bright yellow color, fragrant scent, it is inexpensive and it blooms this time of the year. The Mimosa is cultivated for its flowers and honey production. The essential oils are used in perfumes and cosmetics. Its dense growth and spines makes it a good barrier plant, and the wood is sometimes used in bent- wood furniture.

In the United States on March 8, 2011 President Barack Obama proclaimed March to be “Women’s History Month” or “IWD“, and calling all Americans to reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women in shaping our country’s history. In 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the, “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges”. Events are scheduled to take place in more that 100 countries around the world on International Women’s Day. 
My recipe this week is in honor of “Festa della Donna” and what better way to celebrate than with a dish my mother makes called “Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie”. It is an easy recipe, but a delectable way to serve for a brunch or a light dinner. It is extremely appealing to look at, as the green color of the spinach gives life to your vase of yellow Mimosa flowers on your table. This can be served with a salad, and a sparkling Mimosa cocktail to add to your celebration.

Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie

1 tablespoon of butter (unsalted)
1 cup of fresh onion (minced)
10 oz package of chopped spinach
2 eggs
15 oz container of Ricotta (either whole milk or low fat)
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
3/8 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1--9 inch pie shell (deep) (Oronoque is the brand of pie crust)

Follow directions for baking pie shell (unfilled). Drain spinach by using hands to squeeze out moisture, or use a strainer. Melt butter and sauté onions until soft. Add spinach and stir until most of the moisture is gone. Then remove from heat. In a large bowl, add all the other ingredients to the spinach and stir until mixture looks like green and white marble. Pour into baked pie shell and bake at 350° F for about 40 minutes or until top is golden and filling is set.
Yields: 8 slices depending on how large you slice them.

Mimosa Cocktail

8 oz of chilled orange juice (fresh squeezed or in bottle)
4 oz of chilled Champagne or Prosecco
Pour orange juice into a chilled fluted Champagne glass over two ice cubes. Fill with the chilled Champagne or Prosecco, stir gently, and serve with a cherry.

Till Next Time………

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