Friday, March 7, 2014

“Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie” To Celebrate "Festa della Donna"

“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 a day of remembrance and history for women all over the world. On March 25, 1911, a fire in a sweatshop owned by the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York killed 123 female garment workers. Unsafe conditions contributed to the high death toll. Many of the fire escapes were locked to prevent women from slipping out, even for a moment's break. Most of the victims were Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better working conditions.

Festa della Donna is also known to commemorate both the social, political, economic achievements, and rights of women. In Italy, this celebration was held for the first time in 1911. Most Italian men 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. 

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. 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.

As we celebrate women this month I can not forget to include my mom in this post. Monday, is my mother’s Birthday. My mom is the heart of our home. She is the one that gets everyone together for Birthdays and Holidays. She loves to cook meals for the family especially her grandchildren. She exhumes Love, Joy, and Faith plus has the Patience of a Saint. Everyone in the family can attest to her strength, her honesty, and her warmth. My mom embodies what a mother should be and shares her wisdom with everyone she meets. She has many hobbies some include, reading, cooking, spending time with family, and friends. I have so many memories of my childhood with my mom, but these thoughts are a special way to wish my mom a Happy Birthday!!!

My mom, Madeline and myself

My mom was a teacher by profession and as they say chief, cook, and bottle washer. She did it all. Took care of three children, ran a home, was a teacher, and there was always a hot meal on the table at night for dinner. I don’t know how she did it all. She would make us breakfast in the morning and made sure we had very nutritious and satisfying lunch for school. Then in the evening she made dinner mostly from scratch, using only the freshest ingredients. Many of my fondest memories were helping my mom make dinner. The smells of chicken or pork cooking in the oven with potatoes, onions, and veggies were a wonderful way to grow up. On Sundays, church was always the top priority (the whole family would go together and get dressed up not like today with jeans) and then we would come home and prepare for dinner which we would eat about 2:00 pm our larger meal. Sunday was not only for church but for family. We always had company over, whether it was my grandparents, friends, or aunts, and uncles. Now, this is what I mean about food being centered around our family. The table had to be set just so, with the proper placement of forks, spoons, and knives. We had a centerpiece that coordinated with the seasons. We would always use the good china, and silverware. Especially before a major holiday, like Christmas or Easter the silver polish would come out. My job was to help clean the silver serving trays and candle sticks. We also polished all of the furniture as everything had to be just perfect. Even now if I smell Gorham silver polish it brings back memories of family gatherings long ago.

L-R: Grandmother Julia, great-grandmother Sofia, & my mom (1950)
Now back to the food, my mom would list on a piece of paper what she was going to make for that Sunday meal which was very important. She always said to make a list so you would not forget to put a dish out on the table. A typical Sunday meal was centered on pasta (macaroni or mac’s for short we would call it) and meatballs as a first dish. Then the entrée with all the trimmings chicken, pork, or a roast beef were placed on the table. Our vegetables included broccoli, stuffed mushrooms, fried cauliflower, and many more too numerous to mention. Then the starch was either potatoes or rice. A lettuce salad was a must. It contained everything from lettuce of all types, cucumbers, radishes, red onions, and tomatoes. The dressing was made with the best olive oil and always balsamic vinegar. After every one was almost busting out of their clothes came the coffee, demitasse, (Italian black coffee) tea, fruit, nuts, figs, and the desserts. Now baking is my forte so I salivated over all of the Italian pastries including Cannoli, Sfogligtelli, Cream Puffs, Italian Cookies with Pignoli nuts, and Cheese Cakes. We of course do not eat like that anymore, thank goodness or we will have to be rolled out of the house. Things were different then, I think this describes it very well,  “Family Plus Food Equals Love.” So this one is for you Mom…Love you! Hope that you enjoy your Birthday! Love your daughter Dottie xx

My recipe this week is in honor of “Festa della Donna” and my mom, Madeline. What better way to celebrate than with a dish my mother makes called, “Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie.” It is easy, and delicious 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. Serve with a cherry, or a twist of an orange slice.


Till Next Time………

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Hi Dottie ,
    First and foremost , let me wish you 'Mom' a very happy birthday .
    As usual your post was very interesting with lots of information and I enjoyed reading very much . Dottie , what amazing me most is most Italians still have the same traditions and teaching the younger generations . I asked hubby to read this post , he said lots of men of all cultures should honor their ladies because as you say they are really the ones that holds the family together .
    Now the Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie not only look goods but the ingredients HMmmmm I can just taste them now . As you know when I make this Pie , I will have to make two ;-D . Large family , 4 kids , 3 grownups . got all the ingredients , on hand . Thanks so much for sharing :) Blessing dear Dottie ---Nee

    1. Dearest Nee,
      Thanks for stopping by..I will tell my mom that you sent your wishes. Thank you....So glad that you enjoyed my post. Yes, there was a lot of info, but I agree with you the traditions and stories are so similar with every Italian no matter what region they came from. You should give your hubby a kiss for me and tell him thank you for reading. And yes he is correct all men should honor their wives as they do hold the family together. I remember my mom telling me that the men used to think they were the head of the household, but it really was not so. Most of the women years back were the ones in the family that ran the "roost," even though the men thought they did.
      The Italian Spinach and Ricotta pie is a great dish for either a Friday night, or a brunch on Easter Sunday. My mom has been making that pie for many years and the whole family lives it. Nee you may need three pies as it is good leftover and cold in a sandwich. For you the adults, you may want to put a little heat in it by using some red pepper flakes.
      Enjoy and have a blessed weekend..Dottie :)

  2. Fabulous post Dottie! La festa della donna is very popular in Italy especially. On the 8th of march you see mimosa flowers everywhere and florists make a fortune on that day just like on Valentine. I remember when I was at school the boys would bring a mimosa to each of their school friends.
    Your mum looks lovely! Hope she has a lovely birthday and I am sure you will make her feel as special as she is. X

    1. Dearest Alida,
      Thank you for stopping by! Happy Festa della Donna! I love it when I write about Italy, and you tell me your stories about being there.That reminds me about the Valentine's we would get from the boys, in school, so it is like a Valentine's day. I am sure the flowers must be gorgeous.Speaking about women, and how we should honor them, I thought this was a perfect way to combine both special days together. Thanks for your words about my mom, I will tell her that you sent your best. We are going out for her birthday to dinner, with the family, and I know she will be very happy. Blessings on a terrific weekend...Dottie :)

  3. Hi Dottie!
    Happy birthday to your MOM!!!!!! What a lovely post. I had forgotten about International Women's Day. I think the entire month of March is devoted to Women. Is is Women's History Month? I'm not sure:)

    I love when you share bygone pictures. And of course that Italian Spinach Pie looks so delicious. I haven't made it in years. Thank you so much for sharing, Dottie. Wishing your Mom a beautiful birthday. At least she is going to have a sunny day!!!

  4. Dear Louise, Thank you for your wishes to my mom and for stopping by for a visit. I saw my mom today, and she enjoyed reading my post and all of the comments everyone left for her. I think you are right about the whole month which is devoted to Women. We have to stay strong and fight for our rights.
    Thanks for your thoughts on the older photos. I agree, especially the black and white ones, I call them. They have such personality, and when you look at them, you can see a different time and especially people that have long gone.
    Yes, this Spinach Pie is so good, very nutritious, and easy. A great brunch idea or a light lunch.
    It was a sunny, and warmer day today which was very nice and a break from all the cold, snow, and ice. We went to dinner with my mom at the Olive Garden this evening and they even put a candle in the dessert for her. So I can definitely say she had a glorious birthday.. Blessing on a great week, looking forward to your next post...Dottie :)

  5. Happy birthday to your mom, although it will be over when you read this! What a lovely post in her honor and to all women, too. I love spinach and ricotta together and your pie looks fabulous! It's sad that the Sunday family dinners are losing momentum...although I think we all ate too much, I believe it was a lovely tradition worthy of passing on to the next generation.

  6. Dear Christina,
    Thank you so much for your wishes to my mom. Yes, today is over for her, and she had a glorious day. The whole weekend she celebrated. Family and friends. She didn't want a party as this is her 85th year, God Bless her! But had a memorable weekend for sure.
    Yes, this weekend was perfect to include her birthday as well as Festa della Donna. A tribute to all women. I agree with you, Sunday dinners are no more really in my family. The kids have sports, and homework, plus they like to go with friends, so there is no more of that Sunday togetherness. When I was young, it just wasn't Sunday without all the family and food. Way to much food, I agree with that one. It is such a shame that my nieces and nephews will never get to experience that "Sunday" dinner at grandma's. .
    Thank you for stopping by and have a blessed week..Dottie :)