Everyone who grew up in an Italian household knows that Christmas Eve is one of the biggest days of the year. It is filled with loved ones, Christmas excitement, and most importantly- the feast of the seven fishes. Roman Catholics practice abstinence from eating meat on this special day but the tradition of eating seafood on Christmas eve can be traced back to Southern Regions of Italy like Naples and Sicily. Little is known about when the tradition began but when waves of Italian immigrants began to make their way to America, they brought this tradition with them. Soon, the feast was popularized all over Italian-American households and to this day, it is a common Christmas Eve practice that Italians hold close to their heart.
So why “seven” fishes? Some say there is a religious reason behind this. In the Roman Catholic church, God created Earth in seven days. There are also seven sacraments and overall, the number seven is the most repeated number in the bible. However, just like the beginning of the tradition itself, no one knows for sure why there are seven fishes. Regardless, when all of these unique, flavorful dishes combine, it is truly a feast. This year, we chose to create our own versions of each dish, bringing in delicious combinations and unexpected flavors. We hope this encourages you to try out one (or all) of these recipes. Even if you are not Italian and it isn’t Christmas Eve, these dishes go well together or alone. Enjoy!
First, we have our Baccala salad. This salad is refreshing, light, and makes a good appetizer or side dish. And with cod, it still follows the rules of the seven fishes. With cauliflower, pepper, and olives mixed in, it doesn’t make you feel too full to tackle the rest of your plate.
Second, we have our Whole Roasted Citrus and Herb Stuffed Branzino. This dish could make a fantastic meal at any time of the year and is one of the easiest dishes to make on our list. Besides the Branzino, all other ingredients can most likely be found in your pantry. This dish is impressive yet won’t take up too much time when making your other holiday recipes.
Third is our Clams Oreganata. A classic staple in every Italian household, it only made sense to include this flavorful dish in our seven fishes feast. These clams are impressive, delicious, and convenient as an appetizer or alongside a festive, holiday buffet.
Fourth is our Linguine with Lobster and Herbs. The combination of spicy marinara sauce mixed with the sweet and mouthwatering flavors of lobster meat make this dish an instant favorite. Plus, the heavy cream and herbs add a savory twist that will have you coming back for seconds… or thirds.
Fifth is our Grilled Octopus with White Beans and Radicchio. This light dish is unique and filled with a combination of flavors, colors, and textures that make an impression. This original recipe is a healthy alternative to the usual calamari served at the table, making it easier to save room for dessert in the end.
Sixth, we have our Perciatelli Con Le Sarde. This pasta dish is hearty and filled with flavor, making it a satisfying meal for any day of the week throughout the colder months. The combo of fennel, raisins, bread crumbs, pignoli nuts and sardines bring the perfect proportions of salty and sweet flavors to the table.
Finally, for our seventh dish we have Shrimp Francese. This delicious meal is a true classic on Christmas Eve. Lightly sauteed, coated in egg and lemon, then fried, these golden brown shrimp are crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth on the inside. Yum.
Is your mouth watering yet? Us, too! We hope our new recipes inspire you to add different flavors and dishes to your feast of the seven fishes. By spicing things up (literally) you could find new, popular dishes for your holiday feasts that your guests will rave about all year long.