ITALIANS & EGGS
Not many would think of Italians as being big egg Eaters, but if you thought that, you’d be wrong. Italians probably eat more eggs than Americans, and they certainly have more ways to prepare them, especially in the form of the marvelous Italian Frittata. Italians eat Hard-Boiled Stuffed Egg at Wine Bars all over Italy, and they eat all kinds of Frittati mostly for lunch, but for dinner with a salad or as a late night snack as well. The fillings for Frittata are endless, with spinach, spaghetti, potato, and mushroom being most common. One famous Italian Egg dish is Uovo en Purgatorio, a dish of a couple eggs cooked in spicy tomato sauce and serve over toasted Italian Bread. But when it comes to Italian-Americans vs. our Italian brethren in Italy, Italian-Americans eat quite a bit more eggs than Italians in Italy. Where Italian-Americans beat out Italians in Italy in egg consumption is in the area of Egg Sandwiches, of which we just love and is our little secret, Italian-American Secret that is. American’s of other ethnic origins might not know of these tasty little sandwiches as we mostly eat them at home and the only Italian Egg Sandwich you are likely to see in an Italian-Deli is one of Sausage Pepper and Eggs. And you’re gonna have to go into a real heavy duty Italian neighborhood in Philly, Chicago, Brooklyn, and other parts of New York to find one, and even then you’re not gonna see many around. My favorite Egg Sandwiches are the previously mention Sausage Pepper & Egg and one my dear Aunt Helen (born in Salerno) taught me way back when. It’s a sandwich that’s not that well known and is sort of a family secret. I’ve cooked it for my friends, who have all gone nuts for it, and love it so much that since we have a good number of dinner parties, my friends asked me to top crostini with this egg sandwich filling. Oh, “So what is it,” you want to know? Well, it’s quite simple, but supremely tasty. It’s spinach sautéed with butter and olive oil then mixed in with eggs (Scrambling) and top quality grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padana Cheese. The result is amazing. One day I went over to Aunt Helen’s house to pay a visit to her and my Uncle Frank. As always Aunt Helen asked me if I wanted to eat. Well, more of an order than a question. “Heck yeah,” Aunt Helen, not what I said, but in my mind. OK, is what I said to Aunt Helen, one of the greatest Italian home-cooks this country has ever seen, her food was marvelous. Aunt Helen’s Meatballs are my all-time favorites. Anyway on this day, Aunt Helen gave me this sandwich. It was a Sandwich of Eggs scrambled with spinach and Parmigiano, and I was in Love at first bite. Dam, this sandwich was a revelation. I asked Aunt Helen how she made it, she told me and the rest is history. I made it for my friends who all went nuts for it as well, and I still make it to this very day, keeping my Aunt Helen’s memory alive, I always think of her and that day whenever I make it, Panino di Uovo e Spinaci. Yumm! You just gotta try one.
Aunt Helen's Panino di Uovo e Spinaci
Excerpted From SUNDAY SAUCE - WHEN ITALIAN-AMERICANS COOK
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
Uovo in Purgatorio
SAUSAGE & PEPPER FRITTATA INGREDIENTS:
Olive Oil 8 Large Eggs, beaten and season with Salt & Pepper 4 links Italian Sweet Sausage 2 Red Bell Peppers, cleaned and cut in 1 inch strips 2 medium Onions, sliced in 1” slices 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin 1 bunch Italian Parsley, washed and chopped rough half cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana
- Place sausage in a small pot and cook in low simmering water for 10 minutes.
- Remove sausages from water and cut in to 1” pieces.