Giada De Laurentiis' Menu for the Feast of the Seven Fishes Is Golden

From baked mussels to seafood pasta, here's what is on Giada De Laurentiis' Feast of the Seven Fishes menu.

A portrait of Giada De Laurentiis next to her Frutti Di Mare recipe
Photo: Giadzy / Elizabeth Newman, Getty Images / David Becker

Based on where you grew up, family traditions and what religion you practice, a wide variety of dishes say "Christmas" to families here in the U.S. Prime rib, turkey, ham or perhaps you opt for takeout; there's far less universality to the Christmas menu than there is to, say, Thanksgiving menus.

The same holds true in Italy, according to the Italian food experts at Eataly. Panettone is as ubiquitous as our sugar cookies here in the States yet, on the savory side, some regions celebrate with meat-filled pasta while others dig into gnocchi and tuna. If you have Roman Catholic roots, chances are your Christmas Eve menu might riff on the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

This tradition dates back to the early 1900s when Catholics would abstain from meat on Fridays and on the days before certain holidays. There's no certain answer to where the "seven" came from, but it's said to possibly be a nod to the seven sacraments involved in Roman Catholicism. Italian American families brought the tradition with them to the U.S. Each family seems to have their own lineup, and some menus feature a few fish courses alongside vegetable sides, starches and dessert. Commonly featured fishes include shellfish, calamari, clams, cod and more.

Giada De Laurentiis revealed her personal favorite lineup for the Christmas Eve feast, and we can't wait to recreate it ourselves on December 24 … and possibly sooner because we don't want to wait that long!

"This year, the Christmas Eve dinner is inspired by the island of Capri. You'll feel transported to the Italian coast," she explains in an Instagram caption in 2021.

In 2020, De Laurentiis shared an easy Feast of the Seven Fishes menu that was fitting for a smaller pandemic holiday. But in 2021, she went all out with Giada's Capri-Inspired Feast of the Seven Fishes menu that was "inspired by Giada's favorite glamorous island in Italy," her team explains.

Known for its light and bright flavors and focus on fresh seafood, Capri is a dreamy guide for De Laurentiis' Christmas Eve menu.

"Like many Italian traditions, you could pop into different households in Italy, and each nonna would explain differing rules of what exactly constitutes a proper Feast of the Seven Fishes," she says. "As an overarching whole, there are no hard rules that need to be adhered to: there's no particular fish that must be eaten, there's no specific preparation, not every dish needs to include seafood … and, no—you don't actually need to make seven types of fish!"

Giada De Laurentiis' Feast of the Seven Fishes Menu

Here's what Giada has deemed worthy of the holiday spread.

Cozze al Forno

Calling for just 15 minutes of prep time, "these mussels are loaded up with flavorful ingredients, and get golden-brown and crispy in the oven for a perfect appetizer," she says.

Get the recipe: Cozze al Forno

Calamari Panzanella

Panzanella isn't just for summer, De Laurentiis believes. This creative twist features toasted bread, tomatoes, olives, arugula, basil and your choice of octopus or squid.

Get the recipe: Calamari Panzanella

Pan-Fried Zucchini

Take a break from the seafood with "this vibrant side dish [that] gets tons of flavor from an anchovy and caper dressing." According to De Laurentiis, the 20-minute recipe is "about as southern Italian as it gets!"

Get the recipe: Pan-Fried Zucchini

Frutti di Mare

After De Laurentiis posted a close-up shot of a pan full of this "seafood-abundant pasta" that, translated from Italian, means "fruit of the sea," several fans hopped into the comments to call it, "my favorite!!💕💕💕" It's a staple on many Capri restaurant menus, De Laurentiis confirms, and her DIY version uses a bit of "homemade chili oil to give it some great heat throughout."

Get the recipe: Frutti di Mare

Acqua Pazza

"Crazy water" is the translation of this recipe name, which refers to the punchy spices and mix-ins (crushed red pepper flakes, capers, garlic and fennel) that spike the tomato-and-white-wine broth used to poach the sea bass. "My version isn't insanely spicy, but it's full of Italian flavor," she says.

Get the recipe: Acqua Pazza

Torta Caprese

A fan describes this decadent chocolate torte as their "hands-down favorite dessert recipe! Not too sweet, but just sweet enough. It's gluten-free by default too, but you'd never know it!" De Laurentiis agrees, noting that it is "a quintessential dessert in Capri, and one of the dishes you can't miss when you vacation there. It's light, airy and fudgy all at once—and so chocolaty. My favorite!"

Get the recipe: Torta Caprese

Are you as hungry as we are, now? We think sharing food with loved ones is the ultimate gift of the season, but just in case you're seeking some additional present inspo for everyone on your nice list, check out 6 of our favorite finds from Giada's 2021 gift guide—all under $100.

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