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How to Host: Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve Dinner


Last updated 12/20/2022 at 12:53pm | View PDF

Jason Coblentz

Each Christmas Eve in the U.S., many people celebrate an Italian-American tradition, the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It's a huge dinner with seven courses, all featuring some sort of fish or seafood.

The tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve stems from the Roman Catholic custom of abstaining from meat on the eve of certain holidays, including Christmas. As the years went by, the gesture of abstinence transformed into something quite the opposite.

Every family has their own traditions. Some serve a couple of courses, some 12. Others may prepare one kind of fish seven different ways. The sky, or rather, the sea is the limit.

The feast could easily get expensive, but remember this is a seven-course meal, so each course should be quite small. Use expensive ingredients sparingly by combining them with pasta or in salad or soup.

You also can save money by asking guests to contribute courses, just make sure everyone knows what to bring. And remember, there should be copious amounts of wine and/or champagne.

The courses depend completely on your taste. Here is a plethora of pescatarian possibilities sure to inspire.

First course, an appetizer.

These should be small bites. Remember: seven courses! Choose dishes like crab dip with crackers, shrimp cocktail or oyster shooters.

Second, something fried.

Fritto misto is lightly battered mixed seafoods like calamari and shrimp. You also could serve fried clams, soft shell crab, oysters or salmon cakes.

Third, salad.

Serve "Insalata di mare" (seafood salad) or seared scallops on a bed of greens, or a Caesar salad-the dressing contains anchovies.

Fourth, soup.

Clam chowder or cioppino seafood stew would be perfect.

Fifth, pasta.

Shrimp scampi over fettuccini, seafood lasagna or spaghetti with clams or mussels.

Sixth, the dramatic finish.

Here's where you bring out the big fillet of fish, like the salmon recipe below, or another impressive dish.

Seventh, dessert!

Something light and small- and not fishy! Tiramisu, cannoli, cookies or affogato (espresso over ice cream).


This is a goof-proof way to cook fish. The oil protects the fish from drying out as it gently cooks to perfection.

-2 pounds fish fillet -- salmon, halibut or cod

-Salt and pepper

-1 tablespoon garlic, minced

- 1 cup olive oil or olive and canola oil blend

-Sprigs of dill, thyme, tarragon, basil or other herbs

-1 lemon, sliced

-Cherry tomatoes, optional

Preheat oven to 225 F. Season the filet with salt and pepper then place skin-side down in a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish.

Stir the garlic into the oil, pour it over the fish, and place herbs and lemon slices on top. If you're adding tomatoes, plop them in with the fish and stick it in the oven.

Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork. The thickness of filets varies, so cook time will vary. Note: Refrigerate any remaining oil for the next time you roast fish.

Whether you love traditions, holidays or simply love seafood, use these ideas to host a memorable Feast of the Seven Fishes this Christmas Eve. Un buon Natale!

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website "Divas On A Dime - Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!" Visit Patti at and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at [email protected]

© 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.


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