More Christmas Eve Fishes!

By Published On: January 19th, 2016Categories: Fish0 Comments on More Christmas Eve Fishes!

Today I am going to share 3 more fishes dishes and leave the 2 guest dishes and dessert for last! For those who missed the last blog, I began talking about our NOUVEAU NON-TRADITIONAL FIESTA OF THE SETTE PESCI, or the classic Italian Christmas Eve dinner called, Feast of the Seven Fishes. We had a lot of Italian influence, but also traveled over into France, and included some American favorites in both the food and wine categories. First, I’d like to share our third dish which is so simple it really doesn’t need a recipe.


We live in Southern Arizona near a wonderful little gourmet market that offers really fresh and delicious fish, including cod fish shipped in twice a week from Boston. If you’re in the area check out the Tubac Market ( . That is where I also got the swordfish we’re going to talk about later.

I cut about a 2″ square piece of cod fish for each serving. Remember we did have seven+ courses! It’s important to thoroughly dry the fish before beginning to sear and I keep it at room temp for about a half hour before cooking.
To cook vegetable base: I cooked the vegetables ahead of time by getting a big frying pan to high heat with about 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter. Add a pint of cherry tomatoes, rinsed, but not cut and 4 cloves minced garlic, salt/pepper to taste. Let this cook down until the tomatoes start to split. Next add the spinach. In this case because I had 6 guests I added 6 big handfuls of spinach to the pan. Cook until just wilted, for about 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Set aside and reheat while you’re cooking the cod fish. To cook fish: Salt both sides liberally and sprinkle lightly with white pepper. Place a large frying pan over high heat also using 2 Tbps. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter. Let it get bubbling, but not browned. Keep heat high and sear each side for about 3-4 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. It will ‘give’ when you touch with your finger, but not be either too soft (underdone) or too hard (overdone). Serve at once on the bed of veg.

With this course we had a very fun sparkling rose from Veneto Italy. Foss Marai, Roos is a dry sparkling rose with light strawberry and pear flavors.

As I said last time, I had LOTS of help putting this meal together and here are
Diana, Debbie and me getting ready to serve!

Make the red sauce ahead of time or use bottled. Make the bread ahead of time and freeze. Take bread out morning of your party and heat for about 15 minutes while assembling the dish. I found this recipe online, but have forgotten what site.

1 1/2 pounds squid (known as calamari in Italy), cleaned (I used 1 bag of frozen squid which was more than we needed for 6 tiny portions, but I am always concerned about having too little food! If you use frozen, you can skip the whole first portion of the recipe. My sauce was garlicky enough without adding more.)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup parsley
1 lb. pasta (I used Bucatini because I like the thickness of it.)
Freshly ground black pepper
Calamari heading to the dining room!
Here’s the full recipe in the event you’re using fresh calamari and this particular red sauce. I have blogged my red sauce in the past if you want to refer to it.
Cut squid bodies into 1/2 inch rings. If tentacles are large, cut them in half vertically. Set aside. Heat olive oil and butter together in a large saute pan. Add garlic and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, 1/4 cup water, and white wine. Cook sauce over high heat for another 5 minutes, until it reduces and thickens.
Add all, but 1 Tbsp. parsley to the tomato sauce, lower heat, and simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then add pasta and cook until tender;7-9 minutes; Bucatini takes a little longer because it’s thicker.
Drain well, shaking colander gently to remove excess moisture.
Add calamari to tomato sauce, then remove from heat and allow to stand, covered for 3-4 minutes. Add salt/pepper to taste. Add drained pasta and toss well. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.
If you’re using bottled sauce or sauce you made ahead of time all you have to do is thaw the calamari in a colander. Once completely thawed pour the calamari on paper towels to get out additional excess moisture. Drop them in the sauce for 3-4 minutes, as above. So easy!
 This is from the famous Sicilian chef, Lydia Bastianich. Any recipe of hers you find I think you will love! I made the delicious base for the swordfish a day ahead.
This doesn’t look that pretty, but it sure was good!
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch Parsley, chopped
4 spears fresh chopped Rosemary
4 spears fresh chopped Thyme
2 cups bread crumbs
1 whole medium lemon, zested and juiced, plus 2 wedges for garnish. (I did not garnish, but wish I had as I think the plates would’ve benefited from the color even though the dish was quite lemony.)
Salt/Pepper to taste
4 pieces swordfish (Just as with the cod, I used 6 very small pieces.)
1 large Vidalia onion or 2 medium onions chopped into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
Heat 1/2 cup olive oil and saute garlic on medium heat. Remove from stove and add parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Mix the herbs and add bread crumbs, lemon zest, lemon juice salt and pepper. Let cool.
Season the fish with salt/pepper, dust with the breadcrumb mixture, and grill (I pan seared.) evenly about 4 minutes each side until firm, but not hard.
Saute the onions in olive oil on medium heat until translucent. Pit the olives (or use pitted, much easier!) and cut them in half. Toss the olives in right before finishing the onions.
Place swordfish steaks on a platter and cover with the onion/olive mixture. Serve with lemon wedges.
The wine that accompanied our Pesce Spada was from Tuscany. 2012 Castello della Paneretta Chianti Classico. Dry, medium-bodied with fruit and earth balanced flavors of dried dark fruit; cranberry; leather, and hints of cinnamon.
When I do a big fancy dinner party with multiple courses I like to serve a palate cleanser in little tiny cordial glasses about half way through. So elegant and very easy. Another “do-ahead”! Tonight, after the third fish course, I served…
I’ve been told that in the Western part of Sicily they freeze their granita as I did in a pan in the freezer, stirring until iced. On the Eastern side they churn like a regular ice cream.
2-3 large lemons
1 cup water
1/3 cup superfine sugar (If you don’t have superfine, which I did not, just blend regular sugar in a food processor or mini-max until fine.)
With vegetable peeler, remove zest in long pieces from 2 lemons. Squeeze 1/2 cup juice from lemons. You may need an additional lemon for the fine zest garnish (Use a micro-plane.).
In a small heavy saucepan heat water and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Stir in large pieces of zest and transfer syrup to a bowl to cool. Chill syrup, covered until cold. Discard zest and stir in lemon juice.
For Western style Granita, freeze lemon mixture in a metal bowl (I prefer a flat, 2″ thick metal cake pan. It freezes better and is easier to stir.) Stir with a fork every 30 minutes to remove ice crystal from side of the bowl or pan, until liquid has become granular, but is still slightly slushy, about 3-4 hours. Serve immediately.
Can you believe we still have 2 more fishes dishes to go,
…plus dessert!
After that dinner I am working hard to maintain my
New Year’s resolution of MODERATION!
Here are few more party pix to close today’s blog. Thanks for sharing this wonderful evening with me!
Diana and Dennis getting ready to Feast (is that a verb??)
Tres Amigos-Steve, my husband-Jerry, and Dennis
The table awaiting guests!
Please tune in again soon for the final episode
of our Christmas Eve extravaganza!

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