Tag Archives: Spring

Spring to the defense of every human life

Springtime, or primavera as we Italians call it, is a time to celebrate new life!

In nature we see the beauty of trees blooming, colorful flowers peeking through, the new grass growing like a fresh green blanket thrown over the winter’s dead brown brush. In recent times, our appreciation and dedication for nature and the environment has grown on a global scale. If only we could elevate society’s appreciation for the new life of every human being!

Though the protection of the life of each person has gained momentum due to the tremendous efforts of the pro-life movement, it still pales in comparison to the global awareness promoted by modern-day environmentalists. The prolife movement desperately needs help from our Catholic communities to strengthen the awareness of the dignity and sacredness of every human life, especially the most vulnerable.

We must be united for this cause. Without the right to life, there is no need for the right to liberty or the pursuit of happiness. You cannot feed, clothe, or shelter a person who loses the opportunity to be born and to live.

You’ve probably heard that the staggering number of abortions in the U.S. since they were legalized in 1973 now exceeds 60 million. In 1994, the Wall Street Journal quoted St. Teresa of Calcutta: “America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation.” How prophetic!

“When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul. One life changes the world.” These words for the voiceless were spoken at the 2020 March for Life in Washington, D.C., by President Donald Trump. What great hope to see thousands of young people marching for life. Let us courageously join our voices, our actions, and our prayers to theirs!

We must ask: how am I promoting the protection of life? What more can I do for those in the womb, and those just born, who cannot speak for themselves? Always in truth, always in charity, let us speak to those who do not know or understand that every life is created by God, that every soul is sacred. Let us be united in prayer. For those who are able, there are so many good organizations on the front lines promoting life that could benefit from donations. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing,” wrote Edmund Burke. So let us all do something — great things!

Here’s an Italian pizza recipe that’s ideal for primavera or any season.

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp., a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His 2017 cookbook, May Love Be the Main Ingredient at Your Table, presents amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood.


CHICKEN LA PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 jar of Cucina Antica La Pizza sauce
1 lb. ground chicken
½ cup mozzarella cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together ground chicken, ½ cup parmesan, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper.

Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Form chicken mixture into a large round crust, about 1/2” thick.

Bake until chicken is cooked through and golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and heat broiler.

Spread a thin layer of sauce, leaving a small border around the circumference of the pizza. Top with mozzarella and broil until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Garnish with more parmesan if desired.

Enhance Easter feast with spring’s primavera

Primavera! Spring! Land that has lain bare and dormant during winter is coming alive. The winter season, mirroring the liturgical season of Lent, is giving way to the beauty of spring — bursting forth into new life as we celebrate the Easter season!

God gifted us with these seasons. “Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. … Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days and the years.” (Genesis 1: 11-12; 14-15)

In Italy, my birthplace, the season of spring is a special time. For farmers, it marks a new beginning – soil that was barren and tilled during the fall and winter, is ready to regenerate. My favorite farmer, my mother, says the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, is one of the biggest planting days of the year. Seeds of all sorts are planted, many ready for harvest within weeks. But some, like tomatoes, are harvested months later.

Nature mirrors the mighty plan of God. At the Annunciation, God becomes man — the seed planted in the womb of the Virgin Mary; nurtured and grown, to be born some nine months later, to become the Bread of Life!

In springtime some of the best pasta dishes are enjoyed in Italy. Fresh, seasonal spring vegetables, served with some of the world’s most flavorful pasta artigianale (artisan pasta), make a perfect Pasta Primavera dish. There is a village near my hometown, along the southern foot of Mount Vesuvius, called Torre Annunziata. It is famous for its “macaroni” production — macaroni referring to all types of pasta. Like so many Italian towns, Torre Annunziata is named after a church, one dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunciation.

When I was a kid, I believed all saints, including the Virgin Mary, were Italian. All their names were Italian (Santa Maria, San Giuseppe, San Pietro, etc.); the pope lived in Italy; and every city had a saint’s remains buried in its church. I was eventually disappointed to learn about my misinterpretation, but I probably wasn’t the first Italian to think Italians invented half the world.

The mild climate of Torre Annunziata, created by the sea on one side and Mount Vesuvius on the other, makes it the perfect place for producing pasta. Pasta is best when subjected to a long, slow drying process in warm (but not too warm) temperatures. Torre Annunziata pasta is hung from bamboo sticks outside to dry in the sea wind, which can take up to five days. The result is a pasta so perfect in texture and taste you’ll understand why Italians eat it with almost every meal.

You can pair any vegetable – fresh, sautéed, or any cooking style –with your favorite pasta to make a scrumptious, rustic Pasta Primavera dish. Happy Easter – Buona Pasqua!

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp., a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’ve grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is “The Main Ingredient,” with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family and recipes from his childhood in southern Italy.

Rustic Pasta Primavera

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

25 ounces Cucina Antica® Tomato Basil cooking sauce
Italian imported fusilli pasta (cooked and drained)
1 medium yellow squash cut in 1/2 inch squares
1 medium zucchini cut in 1/2 inch squares
½ lb of fresh mushrooms quartered
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preparation:

In a 10” sauté pan on medium heat add olive oil, squash, mushrooms, and zucchini. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté until you have achieved a soft but crunchy consistency.

Add 25oz Cucina Antica® Tomato Basil cooking sauce and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Simmer approx 2 minutes.

Take approx ½ cup of the sauce and mix with cooked pasta.

Plate pasta and top evenly with the remaining sauce and vegetables. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and basil evenly and serve immediately.