Beware the Ides of March
“Beware the Ides of March!” Even if you don’t remember that this comes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, you have probably heard the phrase, used as a warning. Originally the Ides came in the middle of a month and were used to settle accounts. Today we can use it as a reason to eat Roman food or more genrally, Italian food. If you are adventurous, you can go back to the time of Caesar and cook from recipes recorded by Apicius about 2,000 years ago. They can be as simple as eggs with pine nut sauce or “pears patina,” which is like a spiced pear-sauce. Appropriate for spring is carrots and parsnips cooked together with wine. One of my favorites is a roasted carrot recipe that I have adapted for a modern oven. Instead of burying the carrots in ashes, scraping off the outer coating once they cook, and dressing the carrots with oil and chopped herbs, peel and cut the carrots (or use a bag of prepped carrots), toss them with oil and herbs and salt, and roast them in a hot oven for about 20-35 minutes. Of course, there are many modern recipes from which to choose. Pasta, of course, with many sauces such as arrabiatta and carbonara. The former is a quick tomato sauce that is often made in my home (with canned plum tomatoes when fresh are not available) and hot pepper (crushed red, spoonfuls of hot sauce, whatever suits) to taste. “All’arrabiatta” means “like angry” and the spiciness of the dish is supposed to make it “taste angry.” If you’re worried about health effects, Pasta with Broccoli which can be made with whole wheat or corn noodles to good effect and added health benefits.
Since the Italian style of eating has a pasta course and then a meat course, next you would have fish or chicken course. For the vegtarians – baked eggplant dish replaces frying the meat or chicken with good results. For a light main dish, Torta di Pasqualina is a cheese-and-vegetable pie that can have 2 layers or as many as 5 tucked inside.
Of course, desserts have to follow. Gelato is easy to buy, and the pear recipe from Apicius is quite easy. Or just poach the pears in wine (or grape juice) with the spices. If you feel like baking, try Ciambelline al Vino, which are ring-shaped cookies.