St. Joseph Table Part 2: Pasta Milanese

In this second St. Joseph Table videos, Precious Blood Renewal Center Hospitality Director Lucia Ferrara shows us how to make Pasta Milanese, another traditional dish that graces St. Joseph Tables on that saint’s feast day, March 19.

The St. Joseph Table is an Italian-Catholic tradition, specifically a tradition from the island of Sicily, that dates back to the Middle Ages. The tradition tells us that the intercession to St. Joseph ended a severe drought and famine. The people remember this every year on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, by setting up communal tables laden with food to share with all in the community, especially with the poor.

Of the many special dishes associated with the St. Joseph Table, Pasta Milanese is a standout. Because St. Joseph’s feast day always falls during Lent, a time of fasting and penance for Catholics, the key ingredient in the sauce that tops spaghetti is anchovies.

Don’t let anchovies scare you away from this dish (It is also topped with specially seasoned bread crumbs).

Pasta Milanese for the St. Joseph Table

  • 1 sweet, white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2, 3-oz cans of anchovies
  • 1 tsp each oregano & basil
  • 2, 15 oz cans tomato puree
  • 2-3 cauliflower florets (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Feeds six people 

St. Joseph’s Sawdust (seasoned bread crumbs)

  • 15 oz can of breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup of parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped very fine
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped very fine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (optional)

Check out our other video in this Cooking & Spirituality series, in which Lucia is joined by Christen Cota, the pastoral associate at Holy Family Parish, in Kansas City, Missouri. Together they make for St. Joseph’s Table bread shaped like Joseph’s staff. Watch it here.

The recipe and video for the frittata recipe Lucia mentions can be found here.

All the articles and videos in the Cooking and Spirituality Series can be found here.

Cooking as a spiritual practice

St. Joseph, the Everyday Saint

The tradition of St. Joseph Tables is especially important this year, because Pope Francis has declared 2021 a “Year of Saint Joseph” to mark the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. You can read more about this in the pope’s apostolic letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”).

St. Joseph, Pope Francis says, helps us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.

[Lucia Ferrara, the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions using the form below or by sending an email to]

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