St. Joseph’s Spaghetti, aka Spaghetti di San Giuseppe, is a pasta dish recipe traditionally served on March 19th and Christmas Eve. A plate of spaghetti which has been coated with a mixture of olive oil, toasted breadcrumbs, walnuts, garlic, golden raisins and parsley.
St. Joseph’s Spaghetti
Think about this for a minute: a plate of carbs (pasta), served with more carbs (toasted breadcrumbs). The breadcrumbs in this recipe are very symbolic – they are meant to represent sawdust (since Saint Joseph was a carpenter), and cheese (since this was a poor man’s dish).
This is a classic example of cucina povera -which literally means “cooking of the poor”. Another example of this peasant cooking would be this recipe for Cacio e Uova or this easy recipe for Pasta and Lentils.
Perhaps this pasta with breadcrumbs recipe doesn’t sound very appetizing to you. I assure you that once you taste it, the combination of sweetness with the mild nutty flavor really works well with the pasta.
What do I need to make St. Joseph’s Spaghetti?
- Olive oil: Extra virgin if available.
- Garlic: Feel free to use more than the stated amount.
- Coarse breadcrumbs: Homemade if possible.
- Walnuts: Chopped finely.
- Parsley: Provides a wonderful contrast in color as well as a clean bright flavor.
- Golden raisins: A wonderful burst of sweetness.
- Spaghetti: The pasta of choice when making this dish. Look for spaghetti no 5.
- Orange rind: Optional, but provides a citrus undertone.
Optional ingredient: Anchovies
As far as accessories are concerned, you will need a large pot to cook the pasta as well as a colander. Also required is a wooden board and a sharp knife to properly chop up the garlic, walnuts and parsley. Finally a large skillet and a wooden spoon to stir fry a few of the ingredients.
How to make St. Joseph’s Spaghetti:
In a large skillet, saute the garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes. If using anchovies, add a couple of them at this point.
Add the breadcrumbs and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and continue to saute. Add the walnuts, raisins and parsley and saute this mixture until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and toasty.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to your package label.
Add one cup of pasta water to the bread mixture if it appears dry.
Once the spaghetti is cooked, simply combine the two by layering in a large bowl.
This pasta dish can be served hot or at room temperature.
Based on my personal experience, this is one of those dishes that you either love or hate. As you can probably guess, I belong to the group that loves this recipe.
If ever you have leftover spaghetti, you can always make this Baked Spaghetti Pie.
Origin of the recipe for St. Joseph’s Spaghetti Recipe:
As you can well imagine, this is another recipe which was part of my Italian heritage.
In my upbringing, Saint Joseph’s Day Spaghetti recipe was only served twice a year: Christmas Eve and on March 19th in honor of Saint Joseph. As you are probably aware, there is another more popular food tradition celebrated on this day: Zeppole di San Giuseppe (just follow the link for the recipe).
I still have vivid images of my paternal grandmother standing on a chair, armed with a large wooden paddle (which my dad had made) stirring the freshly ground bread crumbs in a pool of olive oil in an industrial sized stock pot.
How could I forget the sweet aroma and the sound of the garlic sizzling in the olive oil? And then the moment when my grandmother decided that it was time to add the bread crumbs, well everyone had to stand back for fear of getting splattered with oil. It really was such a dramatic event… I can’t help but smile when I think of those moments.
As a child, I was so impressed with the authority, confidence and pride my grandmother had when she made this dish. This dish represented her roots, in the rural town of Ripabottoni, in the province of Campobasso, in the Italian region of Molise.
On March 19th and on Christmas Eve, family and friends are always welcomed to drop by and have a meal together and enjoy this simple recipe for Saint Joseph’s Day Spaghetti!
THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the She Loves Biscotti community where you will find Simple & Tasty Family-Friendly Recipes with an Italian Twist.
Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made this recipe for St. Joseph’s Spaghetti, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
St. Joseph's Spaghetti Recipe
- 8 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cups unseasoned coarse breadcrumbs
- 2 cups finely chopped walnuts about 200 grams
- 4 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 3/4 cup of golden raisins plumped (about 100 grams)
- 1 pound spaghetti 454 grams (1 package)
- salt to taste
- pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Orange peel optional
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Sauté the garlic until fragrant, 1-2 minutes (do not brown).
- Reduce heat to medium low and add the breadcrumbs.
- Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and combine. Stir together for about 2 minutes (breadcrumbs will get slightly toasted and should absorb the oil).
- Add the chopped walnuts and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
- Add raisins and parsley. Stir to combine for 1-2 minutes. Set aside. Add up to 1 cup of the cooking water (from the pasta) if the mixture appears to dry.OPTIONAL: Add orange peel and combine with the raisins and parsley.
- Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
- Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water. Drizzle 2 more tablespoons of olive oil.
- In a large serving dish, alternate layers of pasta and bread mixture (top with bread mixture). Note: Remove orange rind if used in the mixture.
- Garnish with parsley and drizzle remaining olive oil.
- Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic, walnuts and raisins based on personal preference.
- Use a vegetable peeler to get slivers of orange peel.
- This dish is usually served at room temperature.
- If possible, make your own coarse breadcrumbs as the commercial variety is usually too fine.
Hi Maria! I made the St. Joseph’s Spaghetti yesterday and it was DELIOUS even my husband enjoyed it so good. Next time l make it I think I’m going to experiment little with some green olives. I also enjoyed a St. Joseph Zeppole (from a bakery called Amici’s) which was delious great bakery in New Jersey. I’m going to try my hand in making your recipe someday. Thank you for posting and sharing. I love your stories and your recipes.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share JoAnne! I am so thrilled you and your husband enjoyed this simple pasta dish. Have a wonderful weekend!
This recipe was fantastic, thank you so much! I have tried others without walnuts and I am amazed how much better this was. Everyone loved it!
I am so thrilled to hear you enjoyed it Nina! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, appreciate it!
I have very fond memories of this dish.
San Giuseppe was one of the key dates in my family’s calendar. May dad from Larino and mom from Casacalenda also added the honey to the mix to give it that little extra sweetness.
This dish was great for kids as the tradition in our family was to eat it with your fingers (no utensils)… My daughter still rolls her eyes when I drop the fork and use my fingers.
I have introduced my wife and mother-in-law from Abruzzo to this dish and every year we try to make it… The added incentive is for my wife as she was baptised Giuseppina.
Happy name day to your wife ♥
Thank you so much for sharing Pardo. There was another reader that mentioned that they enjoyed this dish without any utensils… I had never heard of this.
I think it is just wonderful to have these memories and such wonderful stories to share with the next generation. Have a wonderful and blessed day.
All your recipes are great. Do you have a recipe fo ett a braided nutella bread? I thought I saw one in your collection of your recipes
but now I can’t find it. Thank you, Deb
Thanks so much for your support Deborah! I updated it recently… here is the link…https://www.shelovesbiscotti.com/simple-braided-nutella-bread/
I recently used chocolate hazelnut spread, but nutella definitely works. Have a great weekend!
Thank you thank you for posting this!! My Mom is from Morrone del Sannio. I have fond memories of one of her older relatives giving us a plastic margarine container of the pasta to eat around every San Giuseppe as a child. Sadly, all the “Zii” have passed on. As I was reading your recipe I could taste it in my mind. To see your family is from Ripabottoni, just made my day!
My pleasure Nadia!
Thank you kindly for taking the time to share. I love how certain foods can instantly trigger a memory and connect us to loved ones that are no longer with us.
My 1st dabble into spaghetti on St. Joseph’s Day. Until I read the blog, I thought spaghetti was spaghetti!! I now want to try your recipe.
Somewhere I read anchovies was optional? Is this part of the recipe??
Thanks for your interest Russ. Growing up Italian, I quickly realized that every family had its own version of this recipe. It really comes down to preference. Since my nonna was not fond of anchovies, they did not make the cut. Although my aunt always included them… either way, this is a great dish! Enjoy!
I am not Italian. I am Filipino, but bear an Italian surname. My only son was named after St. Joseph so we celebrate St. Joseph’s Day each year. This year I’m going to try incorporating traditional Italian dishes that are served on this great feast day. I’m even attempting a small St. Joseph’s Table. Thank you for this recipe. I’m excited to make this dish and hope to do it justice. Wish me luck! 🙂
Happy name day to your son! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Andrea. I love that you are starting this tradition. What a great way to create some wonderful memories! Enjoy!
Joseph Frank Mariano
My mom’s birthday was on March 19th. Her and her sister always made home pasta and the most beautiful breads. She made the sauce using a can she bought at the Italian bakery. It had all the ingredients in it. She added a little extra sauce to it. She also made stuffed artichokes.
She would gently fry the bread crumbs in oil then add a little sugar to them when almost done.
She has been gone 9 years but I make it every year in her honor.
I am sorry for your loss Joseph. Sounds like she was a wonderful cook and baker.
How wonderful for you to continue this tradition… food really does connect us with our loved ones.
I would like to wish you a happy name-day for tomorrow.
My paternal grandparents were from Ripabottoni. I remember well when my grandmother would make the toasted bread topping and send some over to our house for supper. It was delight to eat. When she passed so did the recipe but thank God for your website and I found the beloved recipe. She did not use anchovies nor garlic but boy was it good. This recipe brings me back some 70 years or so. I will be making my “pasta colle molliche” and I sending it over to my nephew for him and his family.
Hello Ronald! Thank you so much for taking the time to share! We both have origins from this very special Italian town. How wonderful you are keeping this tradition alive. God bless my friend.
My parents were from Casacelenda,Campobasso. We made it different . My mom would fry bread crumbs in oil then add raisins and then honey. I have not made it since she has passed away but I think I might try this year. People that are not Italian just do not get the concept. My husband won’t eat it.
I am sorry for your loss Mary ♥.
Your mom’s recipe sounds lovely. I love how different the dish is even though both towns are so very close.
I get the same reaction to this wonderful pasta dish. I guess for us it is so much more than just a plate of pasta… it is that special connection to the past.
Maria Pina di Iorio
I am from Ripabottoni campobasso every year my
Mom used to make st Joseph spaghetti I still do as my tradition very simple I use olive oil garlic raisins walnuts bread crum parsley love them Maria Vannelli tuo padre era Gabriel e tua mama Antonietta ciao
Hello Maria! My dad’s name was Nicolino and my mom was Angela, she was born in Benevento.
My family is from the Campobasso area also! Like you this dish just brings the fondest memories… The pasta dish I always looked forward to. Can’t wait to enjoy in a couple of weeks. Thank you for sharing!
How wonderful Amanda, no nice to virtually meet you. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful memories ♥ Thanks so much for stopping by.
Just like my paternal grandmother from Casacalenda used to make. As a kid I hated it but now I love it and can’t wait till March 19th to eat it. Albeit I’m the only one between my husband and daughter who eats it. It’s delicious and the quirkiness of it with the raisins, orange rind but I use toasted pine nuts … well I love it! That’s the only day they have to fend for themselves and I don’t feel guilty either 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing Cynthia! It really is an interesting combination of flavors that just works so well together. Enjoy!