A traditional Christmas Eve dinner in many Italian-American homes is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It supposedly started in Southern Italy as la vigilia (the vigil) symbolizing the wait for the birth of Christ.
This meal is not a “feast” as we think of it, nor does it always have just seven dishes. Catholics don’t eat red meat on Christmas Eve, and many Italian-Americans are Catholic. Also, Christmas Eve is considered to be a day of fasting so seven (or eight or nine) different seafood dishes are prepared and eaten for the meal. The big feast comes on Christmas day!
And so to honor the tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, here is a recipe for one of those fish dishes and some others that you can add to your own feast at the bottom.
What you need:
- 1 cup smoked trout cut in small pieces ** See Note
- 2 tablespoons finely minced white onion
- 3 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (the best flavor comes from full or low fat)
- ½ teaspoon olive oil (I used one that is infused with blood orange) ** See Note
- ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
** NOTE: I purchased some pretty good smoked trout at Trader Joe’s at a very reasonable price. If you can’t find it, any smoked fish will work. Also, Trader Joe’s has a lemon infused olive oil that would work instead of the blood orange, but any high quality olive oil will work.
How to Do it:
Mash the trout with a fork until it is broken into very small pieces.
Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate overnight to give all the ingredients an opportunity to marry.
Serve at room temperature with crackers or toasts
Makes 1 cup of spread
Some ideas for your feast –
- An antipasto salad with shrimp or crab instead of cured meats
- a pot of cioppino
- an arugula and watercress salad with calamari or shrimp bits
- steamed clams with lemon and fennel
- and don’t forget some tiramisu for dessert!
Here are some other seafood recipes you could include in your feast:
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