Christmas Eve Menu: Feast of the Seven Fishes

Christmas, Cook, Entertain, Holidays, Holidays, Inspired by Italy, Italy, Regional Spotlight


On Christmas Eve, Italian-Americans across the country will be sitting down to La Vigilia (“The Vigil”), also known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It’s an ritual that happens every Christmas, with fish and seafood as the star of a multi-course meal in place of meat. Filled with an array of the freshest catch-of-the-day seafood, the feast a delicious way to ring in the holiday, whether you’re Italian or not. Buon Natale!

Our 2016 Feast of the Seven Fishes Menu

First course: Seafood Fritto Misto


Kick off the lengthy meal with something snacky and fried to whet guests’ appetites, like this seafood platter featuring shrimp and calamari that are battered in cake flour, then fried. Serve it with a simple squeeze of lemon, or mix mayonnaise, lemon and cayenne pepper for a quick and slightly spicy sauce.

Second course: Insalata di Mare


Follow that fried goodness with something bright and clean, like this salad of mâche greens, cold mixed shellfish, and a light lemon dressing.


Third courseFish Puttanesca en Papillote


Segue into the heart of the meal with something meaty. You can’t go wrong with a cod or sea bass fillets cooked in puttanesca, a classic Italian favorite.


Fourth course: Linguine with Spicy Calamari


The middle of the meal is the perfect time to serve a heaping, family-style bowl of pasta. We love to opt for a traditional pasta, like linguine with a tomato-based seafood sauce.


Fifth course: Garlicky Shrimp ScampiAt this point, it’s a great time to wow the table with a pile of fresh, hot, garlicky shrimp.

Sixth course: Italian Shellfish Stew


Finish strong on the seafood front by serving each guest a bowl of reassuring shellfish stew. This version is brimming with clams, sea scallops, white fish and other treasures of the sea.


Seventh course: Tiramisù


After a big, multi-course meal, you’ll want a little pick-me-up. Tiramisù—which literally translates to just that—is the answer.


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