Each Christmas Eve in the U.S., many people celebrate an Italian-American tradition, the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It’s a huge dinner with seven courses all featuring some sort of fish or seafood.
The tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve stems from the Roman Catholic custom of abstaining from meat on the eve of certain holidays, including Christmas. As the years went by, the gesture of abstinence transformed into something quite the opposite.
Every family has its own traditions. Some serve a couple of courses, some 12. Others may prepare one kind of fish seven different ways. The sky, or rather, the sea is the limit.
The feast could easily get expensive but remember this is a seven-course meal, so each course should be small. Use expensive ingredients sparingly by combining them with pasta or in salad or soup. You can also save money by asking guests to contribute courses, just make sure everyone knows what to bring. Remember, copious amounts of wine or champagne.
The courses depend completely on your taste.
Here is a plethora of pescatarian possibilities sure to inspire.
First course – An Appetizer. These should be small bites. Remember there are seven courses! Things like crab dip with crackers, shrimp cocktail, or oyster shooters.
Second – Something Fried. Fritto Misto is lightly battered mixed seafoods like calamari and shrimp. You could also serve fried clams, soft shell crab, oysters, or salmon cakes.
Third – Salad. Serve “Insalata di mare” (seafood salad) or seared scallops on a bed of greens, or a Caesar salad, as the dressing contains anchovies.
Fourth – Soup. Clam chowder or cioppino seafood stew would be perfect.
Fifth – Pasta. Shrimp scampi over fettuccini, seafood lasagna, or spaghetti with clams or mussels.
Sixth – The Dramatic Finish. Here’s where you bring out the big fillet of fish or another impressive dish.
Seventh – Dessert! Something light and small and not fishy! Tiramisu, cannoli, cookies, or affogato (espresso over ice cream).
OIL-ROASTED FISH WITH LEMON AND HERBS
This is a goof-proof way to cook fish. The oil protects the fish from drying out as it gently cooks to perfection.
What You’ll Need:
2 pounds fish filet – salmon, halibut or cod
Salt and pepper
½ to 1 cup olive oil or olive and canola oil blend
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
Sprigs of herbs – dill, thyme, tarragon or basil
Cherry tomatoes – optional
Preheat oven to 225°F. Season the filet with salt and pepper then place skin side down in a 9×13 baking dish. Stir the garlic into the oil, pour it over the fish and place herbs and lemon slices on top. If you’re adding tomatoes plop them in with the fish and stick it in the oven. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork. The thickness of filets varies, so cook time will vary. Note – refrigerate the oil for the next time you roast fish.
Whether you love traditions, holidays or simply love seafood, use these ideas to host a memorable Feast of the Seven Fishes this Christmas Eve. Un buon Natale!
Festive food by Patti Diamond from “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” – www.divasonadime.com Join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.