On Christmas Eve it's customary for Italians to consume seafood for dinner; they enjoy course after course of rich fish items. Although my family has Irish origins, I thought it would be fun to plan an Italian-style Christmas Eve — this year we'll be eating seven delicious seafood dishes. To get the party started we'll have raw oysters and cold, marinated anchovies waiting for the guests. Once a group has arrived, the hot appetizers will be set out. Spicy seared scallops are a delightful bite and slices of clam pizza are crisp and salty.
At the dining table a tuna and white bean salad will be served, followed by a silky shrimp bisque. The meal finishes with a velvety lobster pasta with cream sauce. Doesn't it sound to die for? Look at these recipes when you
24 sea scallops (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved
Olive-oil cooking spray
For the seasoning:
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, or more to taste
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
For the Garnish:
One 12-inch-long daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
5 romaine lettuce leaves, very thinly sliced
- Combine flour, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, salt, and cardamom in a small bowl. Dip each halved scallop into the flour mixture to coat; set aside.
- Place daikon rounds on serving platter. Top each with shredded lettuce; set aside.
- Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat with olive-oil spray, add coated scallops, and sear until light golden brown and cooked through, about 1 minute per side.
- Transfer each seared scallop half to a daikon round. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Seafood, Appetizers
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup flour, for dusting
Two 16-ounce packages refrigerated pizza dough
Two 1-pound containers frozen chopped clams, thawed and drained (about 2 1/2 cups)
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Position a rack in the bottom of the oven, place an inverted baking sheet on top and preheat to 500°.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic and 2 pinches salt.
- Lightly flour a baking sheet, place 1 piece of pizza dough on top and stretch to fit the dimensions of the baking sheet.
- Drizzle 2 1/2 tablespoons garlic oil on top. Sprinkle half of the clams on top and season with 2 teaspoons Parmesan, 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme and salt and pepper.
- Set the baking sheet on the hot baking sheet in the oven. Bake until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make another pizza.
- Main Dishes, Pizza
2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in oil
3 cups drained and rinsed canned white beans, preferably cannellini (from two 15-ounce cans)
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon drained capers
2 bunches watercress (about 3/4 pound), tough stems removed and leaves chopped (about 2 quarts)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red- or white-wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Put the tuna with its oil, the beans, onion, capers, watercress, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Toss gently to combine.
- Salads, Seafood
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
4 cups seafood stock
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place the shrimp shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Add enough water to make 3 3/4 cups.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the leeks and cook them for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, or until the leeks are tender but not browned.
- Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the cayenne pepper and shrimp and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the Cognac and cook for 1 minute, then the sherry and cook for 3 minutes longer.
- Transfer the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely pureed.
- In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the half-and-half and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and heat gently until hot but not boiling. Season, to taste, and serve hot.
- Soups/Stews, Bisque
3 1 3/4-pound live lobsters
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 fresh tarragon sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
6 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 pounds fettuccine or linguine
- Bring very large pot of salted water to boil. Add lobsters. Boil until cooked through, about 12 minutes (or cook in batches, if necessary).
- Using tongs, transfer lobsters to large rimmed baking sheet. Remove meat from tail and claws; place meat in medium bowl. Remove any roe from bodies and place in small bowl. Cover and chill meat and roe (if any). Remove tomalley (green matter) from bodies and discard. Reserve bodies and shells.
- Heat oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Add reserved lobster bodies and shells. Sauté 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add tomato paste; stir 3 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, wine, vinegar, garlic, tarragon, thyme, and parsley. Add cream; boil 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer just until lobster flavor infuses cream, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
- Strain sauce into large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard contents of strainer. (Lobster and sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.)
- Transfer sauce to heavy large saucepan. Cut lobster meat into bite-size pieces; coarsely crumble roe, if using. Add to sauce. Gently rewarm over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; return pasta to pot. Add sauce; toss over medium-high heat until sauce coats pasta, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to large shallow bowl and serve.
- Pasta, Main Dishes