A Feast of Seven Fishes- A Christmas Eve Tradition

by • December 17, 2016 • Cooking How-To’s, Holiday Gift GuideComments (0)1050

In Southern Italy, celebrating Christmas Eve with a feast of seven fish dishes is a much-loved, age-old tradition. It’s almost always a family affair, with generations of cooks in the kitchen and favorite foods that return year after year. But you don’t have to be Italian to throw your own holiday seafood feast, and you don’t have to stick with traditional recipes, either. Want to give it a try? Here are 7 popular seafood recipes cooked on this special day.

Trout Bruschetta With Chili Vinaigrette



For the bruschetta:

  •  12 1/4 -inch-thick slices country-style bread, cut in half crosswise
  •  2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  •  Kosher salt
  •  Freshly ground pepper
  •  4 trout fillets, skin on
  •  1/2 cup instant flour (such as Wondra)
  •  1 cup chopped roasted red peppers
  •  16 oil-cured black olives, halved and pitted
  •  2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

    For the chili vinaigrette:

  •  1 tablespoon chili powder
  •  1 large clove garlic, minced
  •  3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  •  4 tablespoons hot chili oil
  •  2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •  Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley


  • Make the bruschetta: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lay the bread slices on baking sheets, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons salt over the foil. Lay the trout fillets skin-side down on the salt and sprinkle liberally with more salt. Set aside in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the chili vinaigrette: Toast the chili powder in a small skillet over low heat, 1 minute. Let cool. In a small bowl, whisk the chili powder, garlic and vinegar. Whisk in the chili oil, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste and the parsley.
  • Rinse the trout fillets and pat dry. Season the trout with pepper. Fill a shallow dish with the instant flour. Dredge the fillets in the flour, shaking off the excess.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat. When hot, add the fish, skin-side down, and cook until crisp, about 1 minute. Turn with an offset spatula and cook on the other side until done, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels.
  • To serve, cut the trout into bite-size pieces. Top each toast with a piece of roasted red pepper and a piece of trout. Spoon some of the vinaigrette over the trout. Sprinkle with the olives and parsley.

Shrimp Scampi



  •  3 shallots, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  •  7 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  •  3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  2 pounds extra-large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  •  4 sprigs fresh thyme
  •  2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  2 cups dry white wine
  •  2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  •  6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  •  1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs, if needed


  • Combine the shallots, 5 cloves garlic and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a mini food processor. Process to make a smooth paste.
  • Pour 6 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining garlic into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Let the garlic sizzle for a minute, then add half of the shrimp and all of the thyme. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the shrimp are seared but not fully cooked, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining shrimp and another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove the shrimp and thyme from the skillet to the plate.
  • Add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic-shallot paste to the same skillet set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste has dried out and begins to stick to the bottom of the skillet, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the thyme to the skillet and pour in the white wine, lemon juice, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 4 tablespoons butter and 1 cup water. Bring the sauce to a rapid boil and cook until reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • When the sauce has reduced, whisk in the remaining butter and return the shrimp to the pan. Cook and toss until the shrimp are coated with the sauce and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley. If the sauce still seems too thin, stir in the breadcrumbs and bring to a boil just to thicken. Serve immediately.

Fettuccine With Lobster, Tomatoes and Saffron



  •  3 2 -pound spiny lobsters, steamed 10 minutes and cooled (may sub 4 1/2 pounds Maine lobsters)
  •  Kosher salt
  •  4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1 medium red onion, cut into 1/8 inch julienne
  •  2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  •  2 medium waxy potatoes, cut into 1/8 inch dice
  •  4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  •  1/2 pound overripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice with juices
  •  1/4 cup dry white wine
  •  Pinch of saffron
  •  1 1/2 pounds fettuccine
  •  1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
  •  Remove the lobster meat from the shells and cut into 1/4-inch pieces.


  • Bring 8 quarts water to a boil in a large spaghetti pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
  • In a 14-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil until smoking. Add the onion, celery, potatoes and garlic and saute until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine and saffron and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 3 minutes. Drop the fettuccine into the boiling water and cook to one minute less than the package instructions. Just before it is done, carefully ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the pan with the sauce. Add the lobster to the tomato sauce in the pan and toss through. Drain the pasta in a colander and dump into the pan with the sauce, add the chives and toss over medium heat about 30 seconds until nicely coated. Pour into a heated bowl and serve.

Pan-Seared Squid with Lemony Aioli and Greens



  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cleaned squid, bodies halved lengthwise, tentacles left whole
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups purslane or watercress with tender stems
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Whisk egg yolk, garlic, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil and ¼ cup grapeseed oil, drop by drop at first, and whisk until aioli is thickened and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover aioli and chill.

Heat 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Add half of squid and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 2 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining squid and 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil. Return reserved squid to skillet, add vinegar and red pepper flakes, and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet, about 1 minute.

Transfer squid to a large bowl and toss with purslane and lemon zest; season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.

Serve salad with aioli.

Hot Crab Dip



  •  1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, free of shells
  •  1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  •  3/4 cup mayonnaise
  •  1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  •  1/4 cup green onions, minced, optional
  •  5 to 6 roasted garlic cloves or 2 cloves minced
  •  3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  •  2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  •  1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  •  1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  •  Salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a casserole and gently stir until thoroughly mixed. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve hot with crackers or toast points.

Grilled Salmon with Herb and Meyer Lemon Compound Butter



  •  1 stick butter, room temperature
  •  2 Meyer lemons, zested
  •  1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped
  •  1/2 bunch thyme, picked and finely chopped (lemon thyme is even better)
  •  1 small clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  •  Kosher salt
  •  4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin-on
  •  Extra-virgin olive oil


  • In a small bowl, combine the butter, zest, herbs and garlic. Mix until everything is well mixed. Season, to taste, with salt. If using right away, keep the butter at room temperature. If making ahead, reserve in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using.
  • Preheat grill to medium.
  • Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Season with salt and coat with olive oil. Brush and oil the grill. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the clean, preheated grill. After 2 to 3 minutes, rotate the salmon 90 degrees to create cross-hatch grill marks on the salmon skin. Cook the salmon for another 3 to 4 minutes. As the salmon cooks it will turn from translucent orange to opaque pink.
  • Turn the salmon over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. If the salmon starts to burn, or the flames flare up move the fish to a cooler part of the grill.* Remove from the grill and top with the room temperature compound butter. The butter should act as a sauce and melt over and coat the grilled salmon.

Fish Stew



  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  •  1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 small)
  •  2 cups large-diced small white potatoes
  •  2 cups chopped fennel (1 large bulb)
  •  2 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 cups good white wine
  •  1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, chopped
  •  1 quart Seafood Stock
  •  1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
  •  1 teaspoon saffron threads
  •  1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined (reserve the shells for the stock)
  •  2 pounds white fish fillets, cut in large chunks
  •  24 mussels, cleaned
  •  3 tablespoons Pernod
  •  1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  •  Toasted baguette slices, buttered and rubbed with garlic


  • Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot, add the onions, potatoes, fennel, salt, and pepper, and sauté over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes with their juices, stock, garlic, and saffron to the pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the shrimp, fish, and mussels, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit covered for another 5 minutes. The fish and shrimp should be cooked and the mussels opened. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Stir in the Pernod, orange zest, and salt, to taste. Serve ladled over 1 or 2 slices of toasted baguette.



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