Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes” Menu

A seven-course menu featuring seafood to celebrate the Italian American tradition of “Feast of the Seven Fishes”

Feast of the Seven Fishes Menu

I've been reflecting on holiday traditions this year more than ever before. Some, because they are starting to feel a bit stale, others because they evoke a warm memory that I never want to end. 

As the years tick on, things shift and change. The kids in our big family have grown up from the “cute Christmas” phase and have all landed smack in the “annoyed with us teenager phase”. No more little kids running around with the magic of Christmas in their eyes and that changes things. 

And then last month my sister Becky and brother-in-law, sold their house in the Catskills, packed up their bags and cats, and moved to Lucca, Italy. A Christmas celebration without one of my siblings physically present will feel different, odd. 

In my daily facetime call with Becky, while she enjoys the Italian pastry of the day (chocolate cream-filled cornetti today), I find myself craning my neck to take in her apartment and put myself in her new life.

This year I am holding on a little tighter to our Italian heritage and our Italian Christmas traditions, all in an effort to have Becky home with us, in some way.

What is Feast of the Seven Fishes?

There is a long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve, but the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” is very much an Italian American translation of a seafood dinner on Christmas Eve. It typically involves either 7 different types of seafood OR seafood cooked in 7 different ways.

The feast was celebrated every Christmas eve in my family with long tables filled with a variety of seafood dishes. This was where I ate my first raw oyster (at about 6 years old, and promptly spit it in the sink), and discovered my love for crab legs, and shrimp, and pasta with seafood.

If you are looking to mix things up a little or just try a new recipe for the holiday, may this post serve as inspiration to do just that.

Ok friend, let's get cooking!


Italian Olive Oil Shrimp Salad

Italian Olive Oil Shrimp Salad

Yes, 100% you should dedicate an entire course to multiple shrimp dishes. This is a FEAST, after all, so let's feast!

Italian olive oil shrimp salad is a traditional recipe, one that my Grandpa made every Christmas eve. My family has continued to make this recipe year after year, and it just wouldn't be Christmas without it.

This recipe is the epitome of Italian food, simple perfection. Start with a few good ingredients, shrimp, scallions, and really good olive oil (splurge on the good stuff for this recipe). The type of acid you add will cause a massive debate in my family. Red wine vinegar is classic, how my Grampa made it, balsamic vinegar, is my dad's preference. I leave out the acid altogether or just add a bit of lemon juice (how I'm convinced it's traditionally made in Italy).

Crispy Shrimp Cakes with Spicy Mayo

long white platter full of crispy shrimp cakes with 2 forks and extra plates on the side

A twist on a crab cake using diced shrimp (you can use cooked shrimp in this recipe which makes it 100% easier!). This is a recipe that is best served fresh and hot, but you can prepare the cakes ahead of time and fry them in a hot skillet right before serving.

The Best Ever Shrimp Dip

large platter of veggies and crackers with a blue colored bowl filled with shrimp dip

Every good feast requires picky food that you can graze on throughout the evening, this shrimp dip is it!

Ideally served as guests arrive, place this near the bar so one can dip and sip at the same time May I suggest an Aperol spritz or the trendy drink of 2022 a Negroni Sbagliato.


Crab Legs with Herb Shallot Butter

Steamed Crab Legs with Herb Shallot Butter

I don't know how traditional crab legs are for Feast of the Seven Fishes, but my family always served them. They were the biggest treat and something we looked forward to every year. This recipe is simple as could be but don't skip the herb shallot butter, trust me!


The Best 5 Ingredient Baked Clams Casino 

The easiest clams casino recipe using only 5 ingredients and one sheet pan. The perfect elegant appetizer to serve at a party or a quick light meal for a busy weeknight. 

Clams and oysters always make it on our holiday table, this is our favorite recipe for simple baked clams with bacon, shallots and herbed breadcrumbs. They take a bit of prep but then are easily baked in the oven for a wonderful treat.

If you serve oysters I recommend a classic mignonette sauce of diced shallot, red wine vinegar, and black pepper.


Spicy Two Minute Calamari

Spicy Two Minute Calamari in a cast iron pan on a white surface

Calamari sauteed with spicy peppers, tomato, and aromatics topped with crispy herbed breadcrumbs. No need to fry here, this dish will sure to wow any crowd. Serve with crusty bread for lots of dunking… or as the Italians call it “the bread sponge method” where you sop up all the goodies with bread.


Wild Salmon Chowder

Wild Salmon Chowder

If you've been following me for a while you know soup is my love language, so obviously, there is a soup course in my seafood feast. This salmon chowder is the perfect gateway from the picky food into the more serious meal portion of the feast.

Here are a few other seafood soup ideas: shrimp or lobster bisque, Tuscan clam chowder, fish stew, and Cioppino.


Scallop Pasta with Parsley Butter

Pan Seared Scallops with Parsley Shallot Pasta

I am fairly certain that we had several pasta courses when my Grampa hosted “The Feast”, and you are welcome to do so! I paired the pasta course down to one really really good pasta. Tender sweet scallops tossed with a garlic parsley pasta, perfection.


One Pan Cod in Tomato Butter Sauce

close up of One Pan Cod in Tomato Butter Sauce

The final course of the feast should always (in my opinion) be a beautifully composed fish dish. This cod is my current favorite, swimming in a tomato butter sauce that will make you cry, this is the dish that will end the feast on the most festive note.

You can also try this Mediterranean cod or halibut with chickpeas.

There you have it, my menu for Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes. If you celebrate this in your home I'd love to hear what some of your traditional dishes are. If you are new to this tradition, may this serve as inspiration to try a new food tradition, and shake things up a bit!

Happy Holidays!

The post Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes” Menu appeared first on Abra's Kitchen.

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