The Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve has always intrigued me. I’m not Sicilian but I love seafood as well as all things Italian. That said … is Christmas Eve really the best time to tackle a seven course dinner? With all that’s going on, cooking seven elaborate courses as well as eating them … well, it seems a bit daunting.
But what if we reinvented the Feast and turned it into a Seven Fishes Tapas Party? A combination of easy, quick fix and do-ahead dishes might be just the ticket to a wonderful Christmas Eve feast.
Think long and lazy. Enjoy a lovely glass of champagne or a crisp and cold dry white wine while you nibble. No one’s in a hurry, it’s okay to take some time between plates. It will give everyone a chance to visit and reconnect. Just remember to pace yourself. By serving very small portions everyone will be able to enjoy each and every dish.
If a seven course dinner (even if each plate is very small) seems like much too much, feel free to make yours a feast of fewer fishes or divide and conquer the menu. Let your friends and family volunteer to pitch in with the do-ahead dishes as well as the quick-cook recipes.
Kick off the evening with Smoked Salmon Mousse. It takes all of five minutes to whip up. Skip the toast points; instead serve it with cucumbers chunks for a light and bright start to your feast.
Next, enjoy some raw oysters on the half shell. Ask your fishmonger to open the oysters for you … maybe he will, maybe not but it doesn’t hurt to ask! If not, I found these simple instructions on line.
Serve the oysters with a simple sauce of raspberry vinegar and shallots. To make the sauce combine a 2:1 ratio of vinegar and diced shallots and season liberally with freshly ground pepper. Let the sauce sit for about 30 minutes before serving to combine the flavors.
Moving on, everyone will enjoy my Mediterranean Shrimp. It’s another quick fix dish but you can make it in advance, cool to room temperature and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving to bring to room temperature.
Everyone loves lobster. Lobster Salad will be an easy addition to your feast. You can buy the lobster already cooked and removed from the shell. Toss it with a yummy tarragon vinaigrette and serve on a bed of spicy arugula.
A New England favorite, Steamed Mussels or Clams in Wine with Shallots and Garlic will warm everyone up. Sauté shallots, garlic and a few red pepper flakes in extra virgin olive oil or butter. Add dry white wine and bring to a boil. Toss in the mussels or clams, cover and steam until the shells open, 5-10 minutes. Serve the shellfish with chunks of warm crusty bread, the broth is wonderful!
A small spoonful of Butternut Squash Risotto topped with a Seared Scallop or two will delight your friends and family. If you don’t want to wait for risotto, toss small portions of angel hair pasta with Pistou and top with Scallops.
And finally, Swordfish with Caponata will remind you of summer sunshine on a cold winter’s night. Make the Caponata in advance. If you don’t want to get the grill going outside, roast the veggies in a 375 degree onion. Serve the Caponata warm – give it a quick sauté or reheat in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Sear the swordfish on a hot grill pan and finish in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes.
Bon appétit and have a wonderful feast!
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What are you serving at your holiday party? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.