Where The Dandelions Grow in Campania: Frances’ Italian Dandelions with Eggs
Whenever I cook with a Nonna or am lucky enough to have a friend share a cherished family recipe, the first question I ask is, “what makes this recipe so special?” Every time, the answer is simple; because my Nonna made it for me. It’s not a fancy ingredient or special cooking technique that keeps a recipe in a family for generations. Instead, it’s the fondness we have for the person that first made it for us, and how she continued to make it for us, again and again, because we loved it.
This feeling was so evident when I spoke to Sandi Piacenza. A lovely woman who took the time to tell me her family’s immigration story from Italy. Sandi was born in the USA but her mother Frances Carolluzzi Forlenzo came from Italy and raised her and her two brothers in Stamford, Connecticut. I love Frances’ story because it truly embodies why so many Italians came to America. Frances’ parents dreamt of a better life for their daughter. They saved up their money to send her here on her own. At the ripe age of 16, she embarked for a new life. Arriving in Ellis Island, Sandi proudly told me how her mother’s name is engraved on the wall. She married Sandi’s father, Sabitino, at 17 ½.
Frances became a proud mother to three American children and dedicated her life to raising them. Sabitino was a distinguished upholsterer that made pieces for the Duponts, Rockefellers and President John F. Kennedy. He was even invited to the White House. Not bad for an immigrant from Campagna, Italy! This family is the true American dream. Came here with very little, learned a new language and flourished in a trade, earning a trip to a Presidental Inauguration in Washington DC.
This recipe was taught to Frances by her mother in law, Rose Dellacorte. The woman she credited with teaching her how to cook. Lucky for me, Sandi made sure to observe her mother and write the recipe down. And the best part, Sandi’s daughter Natalie is the one to bring it to my attention. It’s her favorite Christmas Eve dish. Therefore, this recipe has been in this family over 100 years. The family jokes how their ancestors would have to get the dandelions needed for this savory egg dish. Now, when I make it, I feel like I can picture the Nonna sending the children out to pick them all over the hills of Campania.
Please try this special recipe. It’s easy, inexpensive, healthy and delicious. A true Italian dish! And most importantly, any recipe that can travel overseas, make so many stops and still live on today has to be pretty darn amazing.
Frances’ Italian Dandelions and Eggs
5 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup, fresh grated parmigiano cheese
1 small bunch of dandelions, about 3 to 4 cups, cleaned and chopped, medium dice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Italian bread, thick sliced, for serving
Add garlic, parmigiano, salt and pepper to beaten eggs and mix until combined. Fold in dandelions.
Heat medium skillet to medium with olive oil. Spoon egg/dandelion mixture into pan in approximately 1/3 cup portions. Should fit three in pan.
Fry patties on both sides until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Place them on a paper towel lined plate and serve on Italian bread.