Felice anno nuovo! If you’re walking anywhere in Italy on December 31st, be prepared to take cover in the middle of the night and watch out for flying cooking utensils. Italians value actively chasing away bad luck. An old Italian New Year superstition forces cooks to throw old things out the window. Pots, pans, plates and cups fly into the air. Glass products and ceramics may break.
In addition to destroying cooking utensils, cooking is essential for Italians during the dual celebrations of the Christian feast day of Pope St. Sylvester (La Festa di San Silvestro) and New Year’s Eve. (St. Sylvester died on December 31, 335.) Traditionally, Italians gather with loved ones on this holiday and have a rich family-style festive feast around a large table. .
For their New Year’s Eve feast, Italians choose foods that traditionally symbolize wealth and abundance, such as rice, lentils, pork sausage, grapes and raisins. Your meal might start with a colorful platter of appetizers, canapés, and a delicious panettone gastronomico, a sweet bread stuffed with savory fillings. For first courses, tortellini, agnolotti, lasagna and linguine can be served with sauce or tossed with meat ragu, sage butter, vegetables or seafood. Northern Italians serve risotto as the first course. As rice grains grow larger when cooked, they represent abundance and wealth. The second course is often boiled or roasted meat, poultry, or fish. At midnight, most Italians eat cotechino con lenticchie, a dish of pork sausage and green lentils.
Southern Italy’s Cenone di Capodanno (New Year’s feast) features a fish course. An appetizer of oysters and shrimp, a primo of spaghetti with clam sauce, and a second of whole oven-roasted fish and pickled vegetables. Cheers to the new year with sparkling wine like prosecco.
Traditional holiday desserts, panettone and pandoro, round out the meal along with seven fruits and nuts that bring good luck: almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, dates, raisins or grapes, and figs. Pomegranates, which connote fertility and wealth, are also a New Year’s Eve favorite.
In the early to mid-20th century, Italy was a very poor country with a large amount of debt, few natural resources, and no transportation or industry. High rates of food insecurity, poverty, illiteracy, few people with the right to vote, and an unbalanced tax system impoverished Italians. They survived and as a result he created one of the most authentic, fresh and delicious dishes in the world.
As a result of early deprivation, something fresh, rich, and delicious began to appear on Italian tables. Cotechino with lentils and mashed potatoes has become the most popular and widespread Italian New Year’s Eve dish. Like all Italian cuisine, it’s modest but satisfying.
Italians consider lentils lucky. The round, flat shape resembles a coin. Each one is worth a penny, so the more you eat, the more wealth you gain. Pork is a juicy and delicious food. When these two foods are combined, they become a symbol of eternal abundance for people suffering from hardship and hunger. Join us in spirit and celebrate our bountiful bounty by eating lentil and pork dishes on New Year’s Eve.
Cotechino can be purchased at specialty stores in Italy.
You get 4 doses
1 Italian cotechino or other Italian seasoned pork sausage, about 1 pound.
Olive oil 2-3T
1 sm.Onion, peeled and diced
2 drugs.carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 C. brown, green, or depuy lentils (washed)
2 bay leaves
4 C.Stock (you may reserve cotechino broth)
salt and pepper
4 T. Italian parsley
Add the cotechino to a pot of water, just enough to cover it. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sausages float, about 2 hours. Let both cool. Refrigerate the stock until the fat solidifies. Remove fat with a slotted spoon. Please make reservations if necessary. Reserve the stock for cooking the lentils.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Pour in oil (or use cotechino fat). Saute onions, carrots, and garlic until soft. Add lentils, bay leaf, and 4 cups stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and let the stock simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Season to taste.
Heat a frying pan. Slice the cotechino into “coins”. Add a little oil to a frying pan and fry until slightly browned and crispy. Arrange the lentils (remove the bay leaves) on a plate. Garnish with parsley. Place the sliced cotechino on top. serve.
Umbrian lentils and sausage
In most of Umbria, lentils and sausage are on every menu. Traditional pigs roam there, and pasta is secondary to locally sourced lentils. Italian cooks start this dish with a colorful soffritto-flavored base.
— Quoted from Chef Michael Smith
You will get 4-6 servings
Olive oil 2T
1 sm.Onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot (peeled and diced)
1 stalk of celery (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 ripe tomato (diced)
2 C. Green lentils (rinsed)
1 loaf Italian ciabatta bread
Olive oil perfect for drizzle
Pour olive oil into a soup pot and heat over medium heat. Add flavorful vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and mix. Cook until tender. Add the tomatoes, stir and cook until soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the lentils and stir to coat evenly with the oil. This will help you differentiate between lentils. Pour in 6 cups of water and salt. Bring the lentils to a full boil over high heat, stirring gently. Reduce heat to low and bring to a slow, steady simmer. Cover and continue cooking until lentils are cooked through and tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Brown the sausage: on the grill, in a lightly oiled skillet, or in the oven. Once done, transfer it to the pot where the lentils are simmering, along with the juices and flavorful parts of the lentils.
Cut the bread into long, thin slices and toast, bake or grill until lightly browned. Once the lentils are done, slice the sausage. Serve with lentils and toast. Drizzle olive oil over everything.
Lentikki per capodanno (New Year’s lentils)
You get 4 doses
2T extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1 C. Lentils, rinsed well
4 oz.pancetta, diced
1C. Chopped white onion
1 C. diced celery
1 C. diced carrots
4 C.Chicken stock
1 C. halved grape tomatoes
chopped celery leaves
chopped italian parsley for garnish
crispy bread for serving
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and cook over medium heat until rippled, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pancetta to pot and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon. Set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to the pan and heat for another minute. Add onions, stir and cook until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add celery and carrots and mix. Cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir the lentils into the sofrito. Pour in chicken stock. Stir in the tomatoes and celery leaves. Bring to a boil. Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat. Boil the lentils for 30-40 minutes.
After 30 minutes, the lentils will be cooked and you will have a soup-like dish. If you want to serve this as a side, you can continue to simmer for another 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Pancetta or canned stock can be salty, so taste the soup before adding salt. Season with freshly ground pepper. Add the lentils to the warmed soup plate. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately with crusty bread.