Pasta on the Table (Pasta Alla Tavola)
One of the best parts of my high school career was eating at the home of a friend who came from an Italian-American family. Every meal his mom cooked was amazing, but the most fun were the days when they would invite big groups of kids for what we called Pasta Alla Tavola or “Pasta on the Table.” Mrs. Vitale would dump pots of pasta with butter and parmesan cheese in the middle of the "table." Then we would all eat it . . . with our hands. It was the BEST. It’s perfect for the feast of St. Joseph. As a carpenter, Joseph worked with his hands. In honor of his day, we eat with our hands! It’s not much of a “recipe,” per se, but here it is . . .
- Large stock pot
- Ingredient bowls
- Sanded plywood table
- Parmesan & bread crumbs in shaker
- Spaghetti noodles
- Olive oil or butter
- Parmesan cheese
- Italian seasoned bread crumbs*
- Boil the noodles according to the package directions. Be sure to cook them “al dente” which leaves them a bit more firm.
- Drain in a colander.
- Return them to the pot, and add olive oil or butter, mixing to coat the noodles.
- While the noodles are still nice and hot, gather your people around the prepared table and dump the noodles in the middle of the table. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and Italian-style breadcrumbs as “sawdust” from St. Joseph’s workshop. At this point you can choose to provide serving utensils, plates, and forks . . . but we just eat with our hands.
- Since the feast of St. Joseph is a solemnity we like to include some meaty finger food side dishes (even on a Friday in Lent!) like meatballs on toothpicks (see Gramma’s Meatballs) and prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe, and also a caprese salad, and cream puffs for dessert!
- *Homemade breadcrumbs are very easy to make. Just toast a few slices of bread until firm, and pulse in a food processor until they become crumbs, season with a bit of dry Italian seasoning.
Servings and measurements depend on how many people you wish to feed. The recommended per person serving size for spaghetti is 2 oz, which—if you hold the dry noodles bunched in your hand—is about the diameter of a quarter, and is also usually the diameter of the hole in one of those claw-type pasta serving spoons! Use ½ - 1 Tbsp each per serving of olive oil or butter, parmesan cheese, and seasoned breadcrumbs.