Christmas Eve Recipes

We all know that Christmas Eve is a busy day and between preparing meals, playing Santa Claus, and catering to my boisterous Italian family I find there is not enough time in the day to prepare and labor over a traditional Italian feast. I’ve narrowed down the Feast of Seven Fishes (Festa dei sette pesci), also known as The Vigil (La Vigilia) to three simple, yet yummy fish recipes to make life easier.

Brodetto di pesce (fish soup)


  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 shallot, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small chili pepper, deseeded and chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (fresh or canned)
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 6 cups fish stock (or Clamato)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound clams, rinsed to remove all sand
  • 1 pound mussels, beards removed and rinsed to remove all sand
  • 1 pound tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 1 pound of cuttlefish, cleaned and cut into rings ( squid can be used instead)
  • 2 small lobster tails, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 king crab legs, cut into segments
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

(Note: to make this recipe easier purchase already cleaned shellfish)


1. In a large stock pot or heavy casserole, heat the olive oil and sauté onions, shallots and garlic. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, fish stock and wine. Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.

2. Add the shellfish, mussels and clams first. After five minutes of cooking, remove all unopened ones. Then add lobster tails, crab legs, cuttlefish, shrimp and scallops in five minute intervals. Cook for an additional five minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste, before serving add the fresh chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

3. Serve as is with toasted crust bread or over steamed white rice.


Insalata Di Baccalà (Cod Fish Salad)


  • 2 pounds of salted cod
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2-3 lemons (½ cup of juice)
  • Bunch of fresh Italian Parsley finely chopped



1. Rinse salted cod well and then immerse it in a container of cold water (cut into chunks, if necessary, to fit). Refrigerate, changing the soaking water five or six times, until softened and mild (24 to 48 hours, depending on how stiff and salty it was to begin with).

2. Place cod on parchment lined cookie tray, drizzle with two tablespoons of Olive Oil.

3. Cook in oven at 400F for 20 minutes or until golden.

4. While cod is cooking, in a large glass bowl add remaining ingredients. Whisk well.

5. While Cod is still hot use two forks to shred it. Place warm cod in bowl with dressing mix well, cover and refrigerate.


Smoky Salmon Dip


  • 6 cloves of roasted garlic
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • ½ cup cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  1. In a food processor, add all ingredients, blitz until smooth and well combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. Serve with crusty bread, crudités or crackers.


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