Buon Natale! Buone Fest! … Merry Christmas! Happy holidays!
With today’s enthusiasm for Mediterranean cuisine, why not flavor your celebratory meals with Italian traditions? Enjoy what matters most in many Italian holiday gatherings: great food, skillfully prepared with days of preparation and served with countless relatives gathered around the festive family table.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas …
… and all through the Italian kitchen, families from Southern Italy traditionally prepare meatless meals, called La Vigilia di Natale. Also termed the Eve of the Seven Fishes, this seven- to nine-course meal typically features several seafood dishes, with an antipasti or soup, vegetables, a mixed green salad, crusty bread – and nearly always, a pasta dish! The number of courses isn’t about indulgence, but instead has a sacred meaning, representing the seven religious sacraments or nine for the Trinity times three. Going meatless: a common practice before holy days.
Here are a few ways you can bring seafood and pasta together for your Christmas Eve dinner – including quick recipes -- especially if you choose to serve seven courses or more!
- Spicy Linguine with Shrimp takes just 30 minutes to prep and cook. Colorful and easy, gently toss cooked Dreamfields linguine with green, red and/or yellow bell pepper, onion, garlic, parsley and red pepper flake. Add “tails on” shrimp and top it off with shaved Parmesan cheese.
- Easy Mediterranean Angel Hair is a great dish for those preferring vegetarian options. Sauté a medley of regional ingredients – anchovies, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, capers, garlic, Kalamata olives, thyme and oregano – in olive oil, and toss with Dreamfields angel hair pasta. For vegans, skip the anchovy filets and the feta cheese on top.
- Seafood Stew with Rotini combines 2 types of seafood – cod and shrimp – in a zesty sauce of carrots, leeks, tomatoes, clam juice, broth, wine, orange zest and red pepper flakes. Ladle the seafood sauce over Dreamfields rotini, and top with aioli (savory garlic-flavored mayonnaise) if desired.
Christmas Day Lunch …
… often lasts for hours! A typical feast begins with a classic antipasti (appetizer) of cured meat, olives and cheese. A primi (pasta course) comes next, often a baked dish that’s a regional favorite. The secondi (second course): roasted meat, chicken or stuffed turkey, served with contorni (vegetables and salads) and bread on the side. The next courses: formaggi (cheese), then the dolci (desserts like panettone) as the grand finale.
Three recipe ideas from Dreamfields for a primi course have steps you can prepare ahead:
- Veggie Lovers Lasagna offers a new take on this family favorite. Layer cooked Dreamfields lasagna noodles with cremini mushrooms, red bell pepper, yellow squash, broccoli, spinach, cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs and Alfredo-pesto sauce – and bake on Christmas morning!
- Roasted Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese brings winter vegetables to the menu. Roast bell pepper, sweet potato, squash, broccoli, portabella mushrooms, onion and garlic ahead. Before the meal, cook Dreamfields elbows and the savory cheese sauce, then gently combine them with the roasted veggies.
- Penne Mediterranean Delight Salad is a prepare-ahead, chilled primi course, or a contorni dish to serve on the side. Tossed with Dreamfields penne rigate, it’s a delicious blend of regional ingredients – cherry tomatoes, red onion, olives, feta cheese, basil, capers, lemon juice, olive oil and toasted pine nuts.
And on December 26th….
... it’s a day to enjoy Santo Stefano’s lunch, of mostly delicious leftovers or perhaps some unique pasta dishes for casual entertaining. After all, in Italian tradition, holiday feasting continues until January 6, to celebrate the Epiphany, or the visit of the Three Kings.
For more healthy pasta ideas to serve this holiday season, click on Dreamfields’ collection of authentic, great-tasting pasta recipes.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or enjoy the secular festivities this season, the Italians have it right: “chi mangia bene, vive bene,” or “who eats well, lives well.” The Dreamfields family wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday – and a healthy new year!