Over the tuscan stove – Notte di San Lorenzo!

The Night of the Falling Stars

Judy Witts
August 4, 2005

August 10 is the feast day of the patron saint of the central market, San Lorenzo.  Patron saint of chefs, he was grilled to death and is often shown with the grill in his hands, and as in the photo, over open flames!

 

A festival is held in the streets to celebrate. The owners of the stands in the adjacent open-air market, as well as the shop owners inside the central market, set up stands in front of the Church of San Lorenzo and give away free dishes of lasagna and watermelon. The lasagna is not the deep-dish casserole we are all used to, but a wide noodle with meat sauce. If you can’t be here, start a new tradition where you live. Here is the recipe for the meat sauce, and a new way to serve watermelon--Sicilian style in a granita.

 

August 10 is also the night that all Italians escape to the countryside to watch the falling stars! There are plenty of excuses to celebrate summer in Italy! A new celebration is the Calici di Stelle, an evening wine festival. The town of Greve will also be participating, and the Daniel Ferro Vocal Program will be performing. August 15 is the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a national holiday. And, of course, the Palio is in Siena with its incredible fanfare, costumes, and celebrations. Reminder! If you made the Nocino, August 10 is the day to finish the recipe and bottle it!

 

 Sugo di Carne

 

1/2 pound ground sirloin

12 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes

1 onion

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

1/2 cup red wine

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

 

The meat sauce for the lasagna for La Notte di San Lorenzo is called sugo in Florence and consists mostly of beef and very little tomato sauce. Tomatoes were introduced into Italian cooking after the discovery of the new world. For a more authentic version, use red wine in place of the tomato sauce. I call this version Sugo di Vino! 

Finely chop the carrot, onion, and celery. This combination in Florence is called soffritto, and is used frequently as a base for sauces and soups.

Place in a pot and sauté in extra virgin olive oil until it starts to almost burn. This trick will make it taste like Mamma made it! It sweetens the carrots and onions and gives the sauce a really special flavour. Take your time and do this step slowly.

Add the ground sirlion, raise the heat, and stir until browned. Splash with wine and let the wine evaporate.

Add the tomatoes. Salt to taste. Lower the heat and let cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If the sauce seems too dry, add some of the water from the pasta you are cooking.

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. This means that the centre is cooked, not raw. Drain the pasta, but not too dry, and then put it back in the pan. Add the pasta sauce and stir to let the sauce flavour the pasta. You can also add some grated Parmesan cheese into the pan.

Serve extra Parmesan on the side!

 

Watermelon Ice

(Granita di Cocomero)

 

 This is a Sicilian recipe, which I have simplified for my taste. The same in gelatin form is called Gelo!

Ingredients

2 pounds watermelon,

   peeled, seeded, & cubed

1-1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cupmini-chocolate

chips

 

Heat sugar and water together until the sugar melts (simple syrup). Cool.

Purée the watermelon in a blender. Add the sugar syrup. (At this point, it’s called Aqua di Sandia in Mexico.) Put it into a metal pan in the freezer. After 1 hour, scrape with the tines of a fork. Let sit and scrape again after another hour. It should be firm enough to serve. Scrape it a final time before serving and stir in the chocolate chip “seeds!”

If you want to make it ahead of time, let it sit out of the freezer to soften a little; it will be easier to scrape. Another trick is to freeze it overnight in ice cube trays and then purée in a blender. You can also use an ice cream machine.

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