What to Eat on Palm Sunday

Francken the Younger, Entry into Jerusalem, 17th century

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when throngs of people laid palm branches and even their own clothes on the path before Him and proclaimed “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” It is customary on this day to have palm leaves blessed and to take them home and keep them as a sacramental. In Spain, Palm Sunday was called Pascua Florida because it was the custom to bless flowers as well as palms on this day. Initially the name applied only to Palm Sunday, but over time it was applied to Easter and its Octave as well. Thus when Ponce de Leon first spotted the coast of Florida on March 27, 1513 (Easter Sunday), he had a name for the new land ready at hand.

Today was called Fig Sunday in parts of England because everyone ate figs for the occasion. There is a tradition that Our Lord snacked on these fruits after His entry into Jerusalem, but another reason may be that the day after He entered, He cursed a fig tree for not satiating His hunger, even though it was the wrong season for figs (see Mark 11:12–14).

Jesus is not the only one who may have trouble finding fresh figs during the spring. Even in our own day, when modern agribusiness can provide watermelons in January, fresh figs, which bruise and spoil easy, are a rarity at the grocery store this time of year. Dried figs, on the other hand, are available year-round and may be your best bet for observing this custom. Heck, even
Fig Newtons would work.

As for the main course, we recommend our Hearts of Palm Pasta. Not only is this dish an obvious tie-in to today’s Sunday, but since heart of palm was once one of the most expensive ingredients on the market because of the difficulty of procuring it, it also evokes the kingship of Our Lord. Heart of palm has a light vegetal quality, with a crunchy and yet soft exterior, and tastes like a combination of white asparagus, young coconut, and celery. And you can think of the bow tie–shaped farfalle pasta as tiny little palm leaves spread out in front of the King.

Hearts of Palm Pasta

Serves:4-6 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

1 lbs. farfalle pasta
2 Tbsps. olive oil
2 cups hearts of palm, cut into 1⁄8-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsps. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ cup parmesan cheese

  1. Cook pasta al dente: according to package directions, but subtract 2 minutes from the cooking time. Reserve ½ cup of the starchy water, then drain the rest.
  2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil.
  3. Add the hearts of palm and garlic and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the heavy cream, parsley, salt, and pepper, and bring the ingredients to a simmer.
  6. Add the pasta to the pan and toss, adding some of the starchy water, a little at a time, until the desired consistency, which should be just creamy enough to coat the pasta.
  7. Add the parmesan cheese and mix together before serving.

Food for Thought

Palm Sunday is in a sense the original feast of Christ the King. Today, let us renew our loyalty to Our Sovereign Lord and pray that we not end up like the fickle crowd in Jerusalem, praising Jesus one day and condemning Him the next.

The preceding is an excerpt from Dining with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Righeous Feast by Fr. Leo Patalinghug and Michael Foley (Regnery, 2023)