Christmas Eve was a big deal in my childhood home! Being Southern Italian, it meant a few things… savory, potato zeppole (plain or with anchovies), a HUGE seafood, multi-course dinner, Tombola (Italian style bingo) at my Nonna’s house with my extended family, midnight mass and then finally the opening of gifts before heading off to bed to rest up for the BIG day! (yes, more food, visiting etc… that’s another Blog Post)
In short, Christmas Eve was just as big a deal as Christmas Day! I have so many fond memories… I don’t really remember the gifts as much as the food and family! My Mother would cook all day on Christmas Eve and then again all day Christmas Day. The preparation would have started weeks before with the baking and homemade meat ravioli for Christmas Day lunch. I think over the holidays any picture with my mother in it would have her in an apron… and if I ask her, I am sure she has fond memories too of making all her traditional Calabrese dishes for her loved ones!
Many Regions of Italy have different traditions around the Christmas Eve meal and how many seafood dishes they serve. There are different tales of how the traditions started. In my family, it was simply all our favorite seafood dishes. There was no specific number… so I continue the same tradition in my family. As we have such a large extended family, Christmas Eve is usually the only time I have just my immediate family around the table so I like to spoil them when they are all home!
Clients always ask me what I serve for Christmas Eve so I am sharing a new family favorite here…this recipe for Cod with tomatoes, olives & capers is worthy of any special occasion or just simply a weeknight dinner! Enjoy!
Happy Holidays to you and yours and I hope to see you in the kitchen, where together, we can bring homemade back!
Buon Natale! Natalina
Cod with tomato, olives and capers
- 1 24 oz. tin tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, DOP, chopped
- 3/4 cup pitted, chopped olives
- 1 tbsp good quality capers
- 3 tbsp olive oil or chili-infused olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme or 1 fresh stem
- sea salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp crushed chillies or chili oil as above
- 1 1/2 -2 pounds cod fillets, cut into 4" x 4" squares
- Combine first 8 ingredients in a skillet, bring to a simmer and then reduce to low, covered for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add cod, cook, with a vent for steam until cooked about 8-10 minutes, until it flakes.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste
- Enjoy with crusty bread!