Tuesday Try A New Taste – Midsummer Eve’s Pasta

May 4, 2010 at 9:08 am (Associations, Cooking, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Recipe, Tuesday, Witch)

Midsummer Eve’s Pasta (Vermicelli Alla Sangiovannello)
Recipe by: Flavors of Pulgia, by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

In years past, on the night of June 24, the Feast of St. John or San Giovanni, true Baresi celebrated Midsummer’s Eve by taking their tables outside and dining in the streets or on overhanging balconies from which they could call to each other and carry on conversations and flirtations. "True" Baresi are denizens of the old town, living in the crowded warren of narrow streets and alleys and overarching white-washed walls that still curl like a North African medina around the harbor’s edge beside the beautiful twelfth-century church of the city’s protector, St. Nicholas of Nyra, now of Bari.  On this, the longest day of the year, the traditional dish served is vermicelli, spaghetti, or penne with a simple sauce of oil, garlic, anchovies, and tomatoes. Some add capers, some hot chile peppers and parsley, some olives, either black or green, but the basic idea is a quick, fresh, simple dish that celebrates the flavors of summer.


  • 3 salted anchovies or 6 oil-packed anchovy fillet
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh red ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 sm dried hot red chile pepper or 1/4 ts crushed red pepper
  • flakes
  • 1 tb capers
  • 1/3 pitted and chopped black or green olives
  • 2/3 c finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 lb spaghetti, vermicelli, or penne

If you are using salted anchovies, rinse them thoroughly under running water and strip away their bones. Then chop them coarsely. (If you are using oil-packed anchovy fillets, simply chop them.) In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, gently sweat the garlic in the oil. When the garlic is soft, add the anchovies and cook, stirring with a fork and pressing the anchovies to dissolve them in the oil. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook just long enough to soften them and release their juices. Add black pepper and, if you wish, the pepper flakes, and cook a few minutes more to blend the flavors. Stir in any of or all of the other possible ingredients – capers, olives, and parsley, reserving a little parsley for a garnish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Drop in the pasta and cook until almost done – about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and turn it into the pan with the sauce. Stir to mix well and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce, another 2 minutes. Turn into a heated serving bowl, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.
Yield: 6 Servings.


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