La Cena di Sette Pesce

Or in other words: The dinner of the seven fish.

This dinner is another one of my favorite family traditions. The traditional Italian feast is held on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Just as any other good Italian-American family would do, we go all out for this. My Dad usually makes a run to the Pittsburgh strip district a few days before to stock up on everything that we can’t get at our local grocery store. I don’t think the menu has ever been the same two years in a row, but my favorite dish has been a staple in the feast for as long as I can remember. Any guesses? If you thought ‘fried smelt’, you were right!

The itty bitty fried fish (head and tail in tact) have been my favorite snack for as long as my family has celebrated the feast. Smelt, along with salmon, tuna, and other sea-going fish are so packed with beneficial essential fatty acids. These omega 3’s and 6’s help maintain cell membranes (preventing dry skin!), and aid in eicosanoid formation. These eicosanoids are important in immune function, and preventing atherogenesis and heart attacks. Family gathering, good food and drinks, and bonus health benefits; who wouldn’t want to have a seven fish dinner?

This past year, we made most of the ‘traditional’ dishes, and added a few creations for their first trial run. I was, of course, put in charge of the desserts for the event, which I will soon post about! The menu was as follows:


Eperlani Fritti

(Fried Smelt)

Calamari Fritti con Porri

(Fried Squid with Leeks)



Linguine con Acciughe

(Anchovy Pasta)

Polenta con Ragu di Baccala

(Cod Ragu over Polenta)

Branzino Arrostato con Sale Marino e Odori

(Branzino with Sea Salt and Herbs)



Tonno Siciliano con Capperi e Olive

(Tuna with Capers and Olives)

Cavolo al Vapore con Cipolla

(Steamed Kale with Onion)



Insalata di Polpo

(Octopus Salad)

Insalata Caprese

(Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella)



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