If everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick's Day, it's just as easy to claim Italian heritage two days later on Saint Joseph's Day. The holiday is marked with traditional foods, especially the famous Zeppole di San Giuseppe.
Zeppole are basically "Italian doughnuts" simply dusted with sugar. Pignolatta, also known as Struffoli, are small fried pastry balls covered in honey, nuts and chocolate, also traditional on the holiday.
The origins of the day are thought to date back to Medieval Sicily when the saint was said to have answered people's prayers by ending a drought. Foods associated with Saint Joseph's Day reflect both the legend and the few food options available before the growing season. The fava bean, fennel and chickpeas are often served in pasta.
Saint Joseph is the patron saint of pastry chefs, and there seem to be as many variations on Zeppole as there are chefs. This recipe is adapted from Cooks.com, but if you prefer to purchase your baked goods, Conca D'Oro Bakery, a longtime Newark favorite now located in Union, has all you need to mark the holiday.
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 c. Ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Corn oil for frying
Beat eggs slightly; add remaining ingredients except oil. Beat gently until combined. Batter will be sticky.
Drop by half tablespoons (push off batter with another spoon) into deep oil heated to 375°F. Fry a few at a time; until zeppole turn over by themselves and are golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Drain on paper towels and roll in confectioners' sugar.