Today’s special cooked up in honor of new Coadjutor Bishop

Bishop-elect O'Connell waits to greet new friends after Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral June 4.

If you follow Catholic blogdom and internet news updates, you probably already know the big news out here: Vincentian Father David M. O’Connell, the highly regarded 14th president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., has been named as Coadjutor Bishop-elect of the Trenton Diocese.

This revelation, the press conference that followed, a noon Mass in the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral have all necessitated the reworking today’s menu. After all, it isn’t every day that a new Coadjutor is announced. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means that Bishop-Elect O’Connell will become the tenth bishop of Trenton when Bishop John M. Smith retires.

That being the case, I decided to put the fine touches on the Ugandan Sweet Pea soup I promised yesterday on hold along with the info I’d collected on St. Bonfiace (whose feast is Saturday) and focus instead on the culinary tastes of the new bishop.

He made a couple of food references during the press conference and that opened the door to a brief exploration of his culinary tastes at an informal meeting with The Monitor staff later in the day. Turns out the Philadelphia native has more than a taste for the cheesesteak and soft pretzels he mentioned during the news conference.

He enjoys barbecue fare, Chinese, German and Italian cuisines. “Pasta, all kinds of pasta,” he said, is specially favored.

In a heart warming moment, Bishop-elect O’Connell spoke of his Irish and German family’s connection to the kitchen as a place where “everything happened…” Attention was paid to every meal, he said. The life of the family clearly centered around the kitchen table where “everything,” including home work and family discussions took place. Good food, he said, was the hallmark.

In time to come, it would be great to learn more about the O’Connell family table. He seems to be a great story teller and so that may be possible. A recipe or two would be fantastic.

For today, here’s a pasta dish featuring Jersey Fresh asparagus in season right now, cooked up in his honor.

Ingredients –1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces; 1/4 cup chicken broth; 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced; 1 pound angel hair pasta;  1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil; 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper; 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Directions:  Cook pasta according to package instructions. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Saute the asparagus in the pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and mushroom slices; cook 3 minutes more. Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving dish. Toss the pasta with asparagus mixture; sprinkle with Romano cheese and crushed red pepper.


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