All cultures have their own traditions when it comes to the holidays, and for Italians the traditional Italian Christmas recipes are unique. If you love seafood and enjoy delicious desserts with a cup of hot espresso an Italian Xmas dinner will serve you well.
Italian recipes for Christmas Eve are based on a no meat meal. The 7 fish feast, know as La Vigilia Napoletana, is a customary way to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
A typical “spread” (an Italian expression for a table full of food) might include dishes such as:
Baccala Salad – a dried cod fish that is very salty and takes hours to prepare.
Cold Clams – a shellfish that is steamed and served cold. (unopened clams should not be eaten)
Mussels and Red Gravy – a pot of home-made gravy (sauce) is made, clean mussels are added and boiled until they open, (closed mussels should be removed). The mussels and gravy is served over pasta.
Boiled Shrimp – peeled and divined shrimp is boiled and then served cold with a dip or sauce.
Sautéed Shrimp – a mixture of olive oil is heated with fresh garlic, the shrimp (in peel) is added and cooked, stirring until shrimp is saturated with the seasoned oil and garlic.
Fried Calamari – octopus or squid is battered and deep fried.
Shrimp Scampi – shrimp is peeled and divined then sautéed in a seasoned butter and olive oil mixture until cooked. The shrimp and sauce is served over hot pasta.
There are many other types of shellfish dishes served. Many old timers that were poor would serve a tuna and macaroni salad.
Italians always have breads and salads. Antipasto is an appetizer which normally includes meats such as prosciutto, pepperoni and salami. When served on Christmas Eve the meat is left out. A platter of this hearty Italian Antipasto platter on the eve would have provolone, mozzarella, a variety of olives (black, green, etc.), Italian hot peppers, roasted peppers, and some artichoke hearts. Other salads served are snail, eel, lobster or crab to name a few.
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Traditional Italian Christmas recipes served on Xmas day might include, Lasagna (usually bought or made fresh with pasta machines) , Spaghetti and Meatballs, Sausage and peppers, Clams and Gravy, and many other customary dishes usually.