Saturday, March 19, 2011

An ancient Easter Dish

I want to try an unusual Easter dish this year that comes from the area of Italy I grew up in. Mind you, I know what the dish tastes like, looks like and smells like. But, because I have not made it for decades, I too had to find a recipe.  This version is a variation of the one I found on the web, courtesy of Nancy Harmon Jenkins, at

2oz diced pancetta
2 T olive oil
1 onion diced
2 lbs of boneless lamb shoulder, cut in small chunks
1C dry white wine
1 bunch of cardoons, cleaned and diced
1 C peas
1/2 C finely minced parsley
3 large eggs
3/4 C parmesan cheese or pecorino, grated
1 C of vegetable broth or less, as needed
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven at 325F
In a heavy ovenproof casserole saute' the pancetta in 1T of oil until pieces are crisp and brown. Add onions and cardoons until soft.
Remove the pancetta and the rest of the veggies and raise the heat to medium high. Add more oil and brown the lamb pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Pour the wine on top of the lamb, return the pancetta and the vegetables, cover the pan and bake in the oven for one hour, checking it after twenty minutes, and adding vegetable broth to keep the lamb moist.

When the lamb is cooked, move the casserole to the stove, add peas and half the parsley and cook on stove until peas are tender.

Five minutes before serving, mix the eggs with the cheese and remaining parsley , beating with a fork. Turn off the heat under the meat!
Quickly beat a few tablespoons of hot juices from the pan into the mixture to warm it up, then pour the egg mixture into the casserole, and stir to mix it in with all the ingredients.
The mixture will appear creamy, and as it sits, it will turn into a souffle like texture.  Keep the dish warm, in the oven, until ready to serve.

Once cold, this dish cannot be reheated. It will serve four as a main dish, or six or more as a side dish.

Note: Cardoons look like artichoke plants/stocks. They are not. If you ever see them at a farmer's market, begin to acquaint yourself with them.  They are similar to celery in texture, and they need to be stripped of outer fibrous strands to make them edible.  By themselves, with onions and pancetta, they make a great base for a Verdetto without lamb.

Can you substitute other meats for lamb?  Yes. Young lamb, however, is traditional at Easter.



  1. I am not sure I have ever seen cardoons but if they look like artichokes maybe I just thought that it what they were! Diane

  2. They are stalks, not fruit. So, they look like artichoke plants' stocks/long leaves.

  3. You find cardoons a lot at Proven├žal markets. I have eaten but never cooked with them.

  4. This sounds quite delicious Rosaria...
    and thank for your wonderful comments on the post on water...
    must say... you are making me nostalgic for the kind of cooiing I did when I lived in a much cooler climate...the sub-tropics makes one think of completely different approaches...
    best to you,