Christmas Eve In The Italian Tradition

Serving a multi-course seafood dinner on Christmas Eve (La Vigilia) is a wonderful holiday mealtime tradition that originated in Southern Italy. Known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes, the tradition is a celebration of the vigil awaiting the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.

Christmas Eve In The Italian Tradition

It is believed that the number seven is representative of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church.

The dishes served vary from family to family. These recipes are the favorites we've adopted into our non-Italian family. Buon Natale!

antipasti (appetizers)

Clams Casino

For many seafood lovers, Clams Casino is the perfect appetizer. The briny flavor of the littlenecks is complemented well by the sweetness of the red bell pepper and the smokiness of the bacon.
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Steamed Mussels Italian-Style

These mussels make a delicious prelude to a meal of pasta and seafood. Serve with bread to soak up the richly flavored broth.
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primo (the pasta course)

Squid In Marinara Sauce Over Linguine

This is a favorite pasta dish made with just a few very basic ingredients. It makes a wonderful pasta course in an Italian multi-course dinner. It can also be prepared using a combination of calamari and sea scallops.
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secondo (second course)

Stuffed Shrimp Oreganata-Style

A simple stuffing of fresh breadcrumbs, garlic, butter and seasonings is the perfect way to dress up some delicious jumbo shrimp.
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Sicilian-Style Citrus Scallops

Fresh thyme, rosemary and dried orange peel lend delicate flavor and citrus aroma to this beautiful scallop dish.
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Cod With Lemon-Parsley Crumb Topping

A easy-to-make baked fish with a buttery, flavorful, Italian-style crumb topping makes a nice dish to serve for company.
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contorno (side dish)

Snail Salad

Insalata di Scungilli is a delicious appetizer to serve with an authentic Italian meal. It can and should be made ahead to allow the flavor to develop.
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dolce (dessert)

Christmas Eve in the Italian Tradition
Orange Rosemary Biscotti

This is a delicious biscotti recipe, flavored with toasted pine nuts, rosemary, fresh orange zest and orange liqueur.
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Limoncello-Glazed Ricotta Drops

Limoncello adds grown-up style to these cake-like ricotta cheese drop cookies.
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Italian Wine Biscuits

These delicious Italian cookies have subtle flavors of red wine, black pepper and a touch of salt and make a nice dessert course for an Italian menu served alongside fruit and cheese.
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