My husband and I are carrying on an Italian Christmas Eve tradition called Festa dei Sette Pesci which translates to Feast of Seven Fishes. There are many ideas of the origins and the proper way to cook the meal but we like to make it our own. This is our second year and we have wised up about portions, prepping, and which seafood we enjoy. Last year, I made way too much food and we didn’t make it through all the courses.
This time we kept it small, but we were definitely still stuffed by the end of the night. We completed the meal in 7 hours with an average of one course per hour. We took some help from the store and prepped many things ahead of time (vegetable salad, ravioli, gnocchi, dessert) How we made the menu this year: we went off the basic format of dip, fried, salad, soup, pasta, flatbread, grilled. Then we chose our seafood: canned seafood (tuna), crab, shrimp, white fish, salmon, fresh oysters, lobster, and made a game of it. We randomly selected which seafood would pair with each course and composed a menu. Miraculously everything paired up quite nicely. Here is what we created.
Smoked Tuna Dip
Recipe: 1 can tuna drained, 4oz softened cream cheese, 1/4c sourcream, 1tsp worcesterchire, 1tsp liquid smoke, 1 chopped green onion, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika,1/4tsp salt, 1tsp hot sauce. Mix all ingredients well and enjoy.
Crab Cake with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli
Recipe: Crab Cake-1 lb crab meat, I used king crab legs. 1/4 chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup onion, 1 celery rib, 2tbsp parsley, 1 egg, 1/2c almond flour, 1tsp old bay seasoning, 1tbsp lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix ingredients, form cakes, allow to sit in fridge at least 30 mins, pan fry in coconut or avocado oil, about 5min each side.
Red pepper aioli- 1 red pepper roasted in the oven @ 375 until very soft and skin is blistered, removed skin and seeds. Blend with 2 tbsp mayo (I used homemade).
Italian Chopped Salad with Diablo Shrimp
Recipe: Salad- blanched green beans and cauliflower (cooked enough that they are still firm but not raw) zucchini, cherry tomato, cucumber, basil, bell pepper, marinated artichoke hearts, carrots, onion, garlic, garbanzo beans. Dressing- 1 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning. Best if dressed and let sit for at least 24 hours. Shrimp- pan seared in olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Oyster Rockafeller Flatbread
Recipe: Flatbread dough garlic and herb from Trader Joe’s (makes 2). Stretch dough into an 8 inch round. Preheat pizza stone and prebake at 550 for 5 minutes. Assemble toppings, simple pesto sauce (1cup fresh basil, 1/4c walnuts or pinenuts, 1/4c parmesan, 1 cloves garlic, 1/2 c olive oil blend well, salt and pepper to taste) chopped spinach, carmelized onion, 4 raw oysters, topped with paremsan cheese. Bake for another 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted, and oysters are slightly firm.
Salmon Ravioli with Garlic Cream Sauce
Recipe: (makes 8 large ravioli) Pasta dough: 1 egg, 3/4 cup flour 2tsp olive oil. Blend well and knead dough into uniform ball, let rest at least 30 minutes before rolling out into thin sheets. Filling- 2oz cooked salmon, 1 cup cooked spinach (drained), 1/4c ricotta cheese, salt and pepper. Scoop 1tbsp mounds of filling onto sheet of pasta, use finger to wet edges with water, place another pasta sheet on top and press around filling to seal, cut into squares and crimp edges with the back of a fork. Sauce: saute 2tbsp butter, 1/4 cup onion, 2 cloves garlic 1/4cup green peas. Add 1/2c heavy cream and 2oz cream cheese, removed from heat and stir in 1/4c parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.
Cod and Gnocchi in Saffron Tomato Broth
Recipe: Gnocchi- 2lb cooked russett potatoes, peel off skin and pass through a ricer. Mix is 1.5c flour, 1 beaten egg, 1tsp salt. Mix ingredients until holding together, transfer onto floured work surface and knead into a uniform dough but not too much or the gnocchi will be tough. Take a handful of dough and roll into long “snake” and cut into 1 inch pieces with a sharp knife. This recipe makes a lot but its kind of hard to divide 1 egg, so you can put the extra on a baking sheet and freeze, then transfer to a Ziploc bag. Sauce-1 can Italian stewed tomatoes, 2tbsp olive oil, 1 leek cut in thin half moon pieces, 1tbsp crushed capers, 2 cloves garlic, 1 bay leaf, 4 threads of saffron (Trader Joe’s has a decent price), 1tsp Italian seasoning. Saute ingredients a nonstick skillet until veggies are soft, mash down tomatoes into smaller chunks. Add 2 cod fillets and simmer in sauce until cooked through, add chicken or vegetable broth if sauce gets too thick. To cook gnocchi boil in salted water until they float. Remove fish from pan and add gnocchi to tomato sauce, best eaten immediately.
Lobster Tail with Garlic Butter
This was our first time cooking lobster tail, it wasn’t very successful. Live and learn. Next year we will try something different.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Spumoni it’s traditionally and ice cream that is like neopolitan with chocolate, cherry, and pistachio. This is an adaptation of that in a cupcake. Here is where I got the cake recipes:
Pistachio cake- https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/2014/02/pistachio-cake-honey-vanilla-buttercream.html
Chocolate cake- https://thestayathomechef.com/the-most-amazing-chocolate-cake/
Cherry cake- https://www.mycakeschool.com/recipes/cherry-cake-a-scratch-recipe/
I cut the recipes by half. In a lined cupcake pan I layered chocolate, cherry, then pistachio cake batter and baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick came out clean.
Frosting- Mascarpone buttercream: 1 stick butter, 1cup mascarpone, 2c powdered sugar, 1tsp almond extract, 2tbsp heavy cream. Beat butter, mascarpone, and almond extract until light a fluffy, add sugar one cup at a time, add cream 1tbsp at a time. Frost cupcakes and decorate with pistachios, cherries and shaved chocolate.
I love family traditions new and old. What are some of your favorite traditions that have stayed with you and what new ones you have created?