Friday, April 12, 2013

"Sicilian Baked Caponata with Spinach Pasta" In Honor Of The "Goddess Ceres"

In the ancient Roman religion, there was a goddess called “Ceres“. She was the daughter of Saturn and Ops, plus the sister of Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, Vesta, and Juno. Many countries claimed the honor of her birth. An ancient temple was dedicated to her in Catania, in Sicily, Italy. Ceres was beautiful. She was tall, majestic, fair in complexion, had flaxen hair, and her eyes were luxurious. Her head was crowned with a garland of poppies, ears of corn, or wheat. She is holding in her right hand a bunch of wheat and in her left hand was a torch. 

Ceres was described as being the Roman Goddess of agriculture, abundance, grain crops, and fertility. She is honored for seven days in April, May, at harvest time, plus during Roman marriages, and funeral rites. Ceres was believed to be the Earth Goddess and equivalent of the Greek Goddess Demeter. Greek and Roman religions plus mythology therefore become very closely entwined.  The word “cereals” derives from the name of the goddess Ceres due to her association with edible grains. At harvest time, Ceres was credited with teaching humans how to grow, preserve, and prepare grain and corn. She was thought to be responsible for the fertility of the land.

Ceres had a strong mythological and cult connection with Sicily. According to the legend, she begged Jupiter (her brother) that Sicily be placed in the heavens. The result, because the island (Sicily) is triangular in shape, was the constellation Traingulum, an early name of which was Sicilia. Ceres was the only one of the goddesses who was involved on a day-to-day basis in the lives of the common people. While others occasionally “dabbled” in human affairs when it suited their personal interests, or came to the aid of “special” mortals they favored, the goddess Ceres was truly the nurturer of mankind.

The Romans explained the turning of the seasons by the story of “Proserpine,” who was Ceres daughter. Proserpine was forced by her husband, to stay in the underworld for “four” months every year because she once ate food in the underworld and now she can never leave forever. She comes out in the spring and spends time until autumn with her mother Ceres. Then she goes back to the underworld in the winter. Her parting from Ceres every fall is why plants lose their leaves, seeds lie dormant under the ground, and nothing grows until spring when Proserpine is reunited with her mother. This is a short version of the myth.

Most of the information on Ceres was taken courtesy of “Long Island Cares, Inc. / The Harry Chapin Food Bank” a food bank on Long Island, New York. Their food banking computer system was named in honor of “Ceres.” Harry Chapin founded Long Island Cares in 1980. It is a non profit organization and community based.  Their mission is to bring together all available resources for the benefit of the hungry on Long Island. They provide emergency food where and when it is needed. They sponsor programs that help families achieve self-sufficiency, and educate the general public on hunger on Long Island. Long Island Cares relies on the generosity and strong support of the individuals, corporations, and foundations that make up the community. They are deeply grateful to so many who support their commitment to the community. So please help us fight hunger by going to Long Island Cares which is and click on the donate page. It is a secure site plus there are a number of ways to make donations. Thank you so much for your help. 

My recipe this week is in honor of the Goddess “Ceres”. It is called “Sicilian Baked Caponata with Spinach Pasta”. This dish is totally amazing! Being Ceres is the goddess of agriculture; I thought this recipe fits perfectly for what Ceres is believed to be about. Most of the ingredients are freshly grown vegetables and grains for the pasta. This dish is not only pleasing to your taste but very colorful to put on any table. The marriage of all the veggies and the grated cheese melted and gooey brings a taste of unending love for simple good food. Enjoy!  

"Sicilian Baked Caponata with Spinach Pasta"

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large green pepper, seeded and cut into cubes
1 large red pepper, seeded and cut into cubes
1 small eggplant cut into cubed
6 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 tablespoons of red wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 oz of spinach (green) noodles, cooked
4 oz of Pecorino Romano grated cheese

Fry the onion gently in the olive oil for 4 minutes; add the garlic, red and green peppers, eggplant, chopped tomato, and cook covered for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, wine, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are almost soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked noodles. Spoon into a shallow flameproof dish and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake into a pre-heated oven at 375° F. for 15 minutes. When the cheese is melted and browned you know that it is ready to mangia! Serves: 4

Till Next Time……………………………….

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