“They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed it he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest.’” (Matthew 21:7-9)
After six weeks of this year’s long and snowy and cold Lent, the last Sunday of the season is about to arrive. It’s a day that is solemn and festive all at once, unveiling the triumphal entry of the Lord into Jerusalem and foreshadowing the
commemorations of his Passion and death in the week to come. It’s a day I look forward to every year beginning with the Palm/Passion Sunday Mass, receiving the powerful symbol of the palms which will have pride of place in the home for the next days and bringing palm crosses to the cemetery where Mom and Dad are buried.
At home in the afternoon, I like to invite friends in for a meal that reflects the significance of the day and the Holy Week that is about to unfold. Thus Palm Sunday dinner in the little blue house always includes – you guessed it – at least one dish featuring hearts of palms. Usually, I serve them in a salad – you can find a recipe for it in the Keeping the Feast archive. But this year, I wanted to expand the search for dishes that members of our world-wide communion would serve not only on Palm Sunday but also throughout Holy Week.
The search yielded such interesting results for hearts of palm including a baked presentation from Italy which goes very well as a side dish along with linguine with red clam sauce. I think everyone will enjoy digging in to them after the placing the palms with care and prayer on the mantle near the three, small cast iron crosses that grace it every year during Holy Week.
Because Palm Sunday is such a busy day, both of the recipes are easy and quick and produce savory results.
Baked hearts of Palm – adapted from the internet
– 2 (7.8 oz) cans hearts of palm – I used whole hearts of palm imported from Ecuador found in the supermarket – drained and sliced into rings
– 1 tablespoon olive oil -1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped roughly
– 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (more if desired)
-1 tsp garlic salt – pepper to taste
Directions: preheat oven to 375 degrees; toss hearts of palm with all ingredients and spread evenly in a glass pan. Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until lightly crisped and browned.
Simple red clam sauce and linguine
– 4 tablespoons butter
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
-1/2 cup fresh parsley
-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-1 teaspoon dried basil
-1/2 teaspoon salt
– 16 ounces minced clams with liquid
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon sugar (if desired)
Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions. Heat butter and olive oil in pan over medium high heat, add garlic and cook til golden (about 3 minutes), add parsley, oregano, basil, tomatoes, salt and sugar to the pan and mix well. Bring the sauce to a boil, add clams
and then simmer for five minutes. Add lemon juice to sauce and cook for 1 minute. Drain pasta, put in pasta bowl and toss with sauce.
For the blessings and prayers that accompany Holy Week and indeed throughout the year, I turn to a venerable copy of Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers for inspiration. Here are some excerpts from the book for Passion Sunday: Placing the Branches in the Home:
“The branches remind us that Lent is the slow coming of spring to the earth, the renewal of life. They are like the great ‘Hosanna’ with which we hail the crucified and risen Lord.”
As the household gathers where the palms have been placed next to the cross and Scriptures, the leader may read these or similar words to introduce the prayer: “We have come to the last days of Lent. Today we heard the reading of the Passion. That story will remain with us as we leave Lent behind on Holy Thursday and enter into the Three Days when we celebrate the mystery of Christ passing through suffering and death to life at God’s right Hand.
“Listen to the words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians: ‘We are always carrying the body of the dying Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:10-11).’ The reader concludes: This is the Word of the Lord and all respond: Thanks be to God Let us pray: “Blessed are you, God of Israel, so rich in love and mercy. Let these branches ever remind us of Christ’s triumph. May we who bear them, rejoice in his cross and sing your praises for ever and ever.’”