The Feast of the Seven Fishes Celebration

Thanksgiving is known for turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings, but Christmas meals seem to vary between families and traditions. Some cook turkeys, some glaze hams, and some bake lasagna. Many Italian-American families opt for what’s called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It’s a celebration on Christmas Eve based on the tradition of abstaining from red meat until Christmas Day.

Although the name says seven fishes, often times the seafood dishes can range from seven up to twelve! No matter how many seafood dishes you decide to make, be sure to plan ahead! Bon Appetit explains that Christmas Eve is a big day for fish markets – so don’t show up the day of or else you’ll miss out.

Plan each course accordingly. Start out with a lighter side so your guests don’t fill up right away! Some popular seafood and fishes used for this celebration include cod, shrimp, lobster, and salmon. But don’t forget about calamari! Fresh calamari from The Town Dock would complement any great dish. This recipe for Pan-Seared Squid and Lemony Aioli and Greens makes for a perfect first or second dish.

Pan-Seared Squid with Lemony Aioli and Greens

pan-seared squid with aioli and greens | feast of the seven fishes mealINGREDIENTS

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cleaned squid, bodies halved lengthwise, tentacles left whole
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups purslane or watercress with tender stems
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


  1. Whisk egg yolk, garlic, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil and ¼ cup grapeseed oil, drop by drop at first, and whisk until aioli is thickened and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover aioli and chill.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Add half of squid and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 2 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining squid and 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil. Return reserved squid to skillet, add vinegar and red pepper flakes, and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet, about 1 minute.
  3. Transfer squid to a large bowl and toss with purslane and lemon zest; season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
  4. Serve salad with aioli.

DO AHEAD: Aioli can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

(Recipe from Bon Appetit)