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Meet our guest columnist, Fran Claro (see page 27 “Irvington Author, Fran Claro, Remembers 1940’s South Brooklyn Life”) who has had a 50-year career as a writer, editor, caterer, recipe archivist and creator. She has written for multiple publications,, and her own blog when she isn’t creating Italian-American feasts for family and friends.
Italian and Italian-American families anticipate Christmas Eve as eagerly as they do Christmas Day. On the Eve, they celebrate The Feast of the Seven Fishes. The only constant on the menu is the number of fishes served — seven. The only difference is the manner of preparation that varies from region to region in Italy. Try some of these recipes and bring the spirit of Italy to your holiday entertaining. Please find more recipes for “An Italian Christmas Eve Feast” at our website:

Neapolitan Baked Red Snapper
A shrimp-filled treat (serves four)
1 whole large red snapper, slit down one side, cleaned, head removed, washed and dried
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup bread cubes from good quality white bread
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound large shrimp, cleaned, deveined, washed, dried and diced
3 tablespoons anisette or Pernod
3 tablespoons white wine plus 3 additional tablespoons

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rub fish all over with some of the 1/4 cup oil. Coat a large nonreactive baking dish with 1tablespoon oil. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan; sauté the diced onion until it is slightly golden and translucent.
Add salt, pepper, bread cubes; stir until cubes begin to turn pale gold. Increase heat, add shrimp; sauté shrimp until cooked through. Add anisette, 3 tablespoons wine; stir; remove from heat. Stuff cavity of red snapper with mixture; hold fish closed with toothpicks, skewers, or butcher’s twine. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 3 tablespoons wine over and around fish.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until fish flakes easily and skin is golden.


Calabrese Calamari
Red wine and squid - a tasty combination (serves six)
3 pounds squid, bodies sliced into 1/2 inch rings; tentacles left whole
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
8 Gaeta olives, pitted, crushed
Red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon basil dried, or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced
1 pound fusilli

In large nonreactive saucepan, heat oil; add onions, garlic, salt and pepper; sauté until onions are golden. Add red wine, and reduce by half. Add tomatoes, capers, olives, red pepper, and basil.
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Raise heat to high; bring sauce to a boil. Add washed and dried squid; stir; return to boil. Lower heat; partially cover pan; simmer 75 minutes, or until squid is fork-tender.
In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons salt to 5 quarts of water; bring to boil; add fusilli. Boil pasta until al dente; drain well. Add to tender calamari; toss; simmer 5 minutes. Serve.


Venetian Fish Saor
An easy room-temperature appetizer (serves four)
11/2 pounds lemon sole, flounder, petrale, or grey sole
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
Rinse and dry fish; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dust fish with flour; shake off excess. Heat a broad skillet over medium heat; add oil. When oil is hot, sauté fish until golden on each side. Transfer fish to a flat plate; sprinkle with vinegar and red pepper. Scatter onion rings atop fish. Serve at room temperature.

Neapolitan Pasta
Garlic and olive oil take center stage (serves six)
2 jars best-quality anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and diced
3 cloves garlic, quartered
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs ground from good quality white bread
2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 pound farfalle or bucatini
Put 5 quarts salted water on to boil for pasta. While pasta is boiling, in a skillet, heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add garlic and cook until it is golden; add anchovies with their oil. Stir rapidly to break up anchovies; reduce heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, pine nuts, and parsley; toss in pasta; heat until pasta is covered with sauce. Serve.

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