Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Eve Dinner: Italian Style

For most people celebrating the Christmas holiday, they either make a big to-do on Christmas Eve or on Christmas day, but in my family we go big for both. The meal I look forward to most is the Feast of the Seven Fish on Christmas Eve, which is the traditional Italian way to celebrate the holiday.

Originally hosted by my great grandparents, and now my aunt, the evening is filled with family and food, specifically, a lot (and I mean a lot!) of fish. This menu of recipes is very similar to what you find on my aunt's table each Christmas Eve.

Appetizers & Hors d' oeuvres

With so much additional food coming, we try and keep things light when it comes to Appetizers & Hors d' oeuvres. Oysters on the half shell and shrimp cocktail are must holiday haves, and the cheese option is something that usually changes from year to year. My first Christmas Eve memory is of watching my great grandfather teach my older brother how to eat oysters (with tons of hot sauce!).

Raw Oysters on the Half Shell with Cucumber Mignonette from Tyler Florence

Spiced Salt-Roasted Prawns from Saveur

Feta dressed with chilli, lemon, olive oil & fresh herbs from The Closet Chef

Pasta Course

When I try and explain how Italian families celebrate the holidays, it usually goes something like "it's just like everyone else, except we include a pasta course before the main meal." For the Feast of the Seven Fish, we also do a pasta course, and in my family that consists of angel hair pasta with a choice of two sauces: red sauce with shrimp or white clam sauce. These recipes are great options as well. 

Lobster Fra Diavolo from Saveur

Spicy Linguine with Clams and Mussels from Giada De Laurentiis

Main Course

Yes, I know this looks like a lot of food for the main course, but that is how Italians do it on Christmas Eve. Why have just one option when we can have three, right? Shrimp and scallop entrees are staples for my family Christmas Eve dinner, but it's always a good idea to include a non-shellfish option. 

Baked Stuffed Shrimp with Crab Meat & Ritz Cracker Stuffing from Gloucester Gourmet

Salmon en Croute from Laura Calder

Bay Scallop Gratin from Ina Garten


If there isn't enough food with the fish entrees, these sides make great additions. The calamari is a longtime favorite in my family. 

Potatoes with Sundried Tomatoes and Pesto from Simply Reem

Baked Calamari Rings from Key Ingredient

Piccata-Style Green Beans from Saveur

For dessert, my family does it potluck-style with everyone contributing their favorite cake, cookie, candy or pie. This makes things a bit easier on the host or hostess, and I highly recommend doing this for large family gatherings. 

Enjoy, and don't forget the cocktail and Tabasco sauce! 

No comments:

Post a Comment