La Cuccìa – Santa Lucia’s dish

The quick method is below. I prefer the real thing, using whole wheat berries. This year I’m using hard red wheat berries from Whole Foods (photo). In a good stainless steel pot, I will soak about 2 cups of the whole grains in plenty of water to cover over night. They will swell. You can leave them out or refrigerate if you prefer. Then, I will simmer them on low heat for up to 2 hours until they are cooked—could take longer. They will still be chewy to some extent, but swollen and tender ihard red wheat berriesnside. You can use canned chickpeas if you like, but I do not like them (schiffo!). I soak my dried chickpeas overnight and cook until tender. So, once you have the cooked wheat and the cooked chickpeas (cecci in Italian), you mix about 3 cups of the cooked wheat berries with 1 or 2 cups of the cooked chick peas. I prefer more wheat than cecci. You serve this dish hot with milk or cream, brown sugar and cinnamon. I love it.

Here’s the shortcut for La Cuccìa—makes about 6 servings:

2 1/2 cups water

1 11/2 cups bulgur (cracked wheat)

2 Tablespoons butter

2 cups cooked chick-peas (go ahead use canned, I’ll look the other way)

2 1/4 cups milk or cream

Brown sugar or honey to taste


1. Bring water to a boil. Slowly add bulgur, stir once, then lower heat and cover pot. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, add butter and allow pot to sit covered for another 10 minutes.

2. Mix chick-peas with bulgur. Before serving, add milk or cream and heat. Add sugar or honey and cinnamon to taste. Serve hot.

Read a chapter in The Last Cannoli inspired St. Lucy.