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Italian Christmas Eve Dinner

It is a tradition with many Southern Italian families to celebrate Christmas Eve with an elaborate fish banquet, Il Cenone di Vigilia. Sometimes referred to as The Feast of the Seven Fishes, not everybody sticks to exactly seven; some go up to 11 or 12, predominantly shellfish. Personally, since I am allergic to shellfish, I usually have a feast of one fish, Red Snapper Livornesa. Since my Christmas Eve dinner is scaled down, I decided to consult with my cousin Sal for some menu suggestions.

 

Summer’s Bounty: Tomatoes

Mid-July through August is sometimes referred to as the Dog Days of Summer, but for me they are something special, the Tomato Days of Summer. Right around mid-July is when the first of the tomatoes in my vegetable garden start to ripen, usually the Early Girl variety. As we roll into august the rest of my crop starts to come in, Better Boy, Costolutto Fiorentino, Park?s Whopper, and the prize of my crop Brandywine. I also plant a few cucumber and hot pepper plants, but tomatoes are definitely the main attraction.

 

Homemade Fresh Pasta

Making fresh pasta at home might seem like a daunting task, and while it is time consuming and with definite effort involved, it is not all that difficult and you will be handsomely rewarded for the extra work. Fresh pasta is not a replacement for the dried, factory produced pasta you find on the supermarket shelves. They each have a unique texture and consistency and work better with particular types of sauce.

 

Grilled Pizza

Grilled pizza. It doesn?t sound right, does it? Whenever I tell my friends that I am making grilled pizza, they usually give me a skeptical look. It is not until I finish explaining the process that I hear a hesitant, “That sounds good.” Nobody really is completely sold on the idea until they actually taste the finished product. Once they take that first crispy bite and taste the smokiness of the crust and the flavor of the fresh toppings they become true believers.

 

Prosciutto

Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham. Unlike American ham Italian prosciutto is not smoked, it is salt cured and air-dried. There are two categories of prosciutto in Italy, prosciutto crudo, which is raw, and prosciutto cotto which is cooked. Prosciutto crudo is the type most commonly exported to America.

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