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Monday, December 14, 2009

Frutta Di Mare in a Marinara Sauce (For The Feast Of The Seven Fishes)

Frutta De Mare or Fruit Of The Sea in a marinara sauce is what I ate almost every Christmas Eve as I was growing up and my husband and I have continued this tradition with our own family. The Feast Of The Seven Fishes or festa dei sette pesci is a Neapolitan traditional feast served on Christmas Eve which includes seven different types of seafood cooked and served in every way imaginable. The seven is believed to stand for the seven sacraments of the church. My favorite is this simple marinara sauce in which you simmer the seafood. Add a salad and lots of bread for soaking up the sauce and you have a wonderful holiday meal! If you want to have a more traditional festa dei sette pesci you can also serve some fish sides such as crab legs, baccala, and fish salad! I remember sitting around the table for hours just eating and talking and eating some more. This recipe is for a huge pot that will feed 12 so it is a nice meal to share with another family.
3-4 pounds of atleast 2 different kinds of frozen seafood: mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, octopus, and lobster tails, are typical (If you live near the coast use fresh seafood/the cooking time is basically the same as frozen seafood) Trader Joes & Publix each sell a frozen seafood mix
Four-28 ounce cans OR one-106 ounce can Italian Tomatoes crushed ( you can buy crushed or you can crush them yourself)
1/4 cup olive oil & 1 tablespoon butter
3-4 garlic cloves minced
1 small onion chopped finely
1 big bunch fresh parsley chopped fine
2/3 cup white wine
1 small bottle clam juice (This is near the canned tuna/anchovy section of your grocery store)
salt and pepper to taste
1 -2 pounds very thin pasta such as angel hair
1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup beer or white wine
Heat the oil and butter in a very large heavy bottomed pot and saute the onion. Add the garlic and saute over very low heat until soft but not browned. Turn up the heat and add the wine and clam juice . Allow this to cook and reduce some for about 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and return to a low simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste and half of the bunch of parsley reserving the other half for the pasta and cook uncovered until thickened up some, about 20 minutes. After it has thickened up pretty good you can cover it and allow it to cook on very low heat for several hours, this will not have as fresh of a taste but a much richer one, it's your choice. *Start your seafood about 20 minutes before dinner.
*Seafood: At this point start your pasta water. Also, bring a large pot of the water and beer/wine to a boil and add the frozen seafood straight from the freezer. Cover and steam for about 5 minutes or until clams and mussels are open, remove any unopened clams or mussels. Add the seafood and about a 1/4 cup of the the juice to the simmering sauce (a low simmer) and cook uncovered for about 10-15 minutes, which is just enough time to cook the pasta. Do not over cook the seafood in the sauce or else it will be tough. At this point I like to pick out the good clams and mussels and leave behind any unopened ones or cracked ones in which I will remove the mussel or clam meat and discard the cracked shells. It is nice to have some whole and some just meat in the sauce.
You can leave everything in the sauce and serve it just like that or take it all out using a large slotted spoon and serve it in a separate platter, that's the way my family always did it.
Serve the sauce and seafood over thin spaghetti or linguine with the rest of the parsley but no cheese please ; )

1 comment:

Brenda (BBC) said...

Hi Ann, I enjoyed seeing you this morning, and look! I found your blog! Your Christmas Eve dinner tradition is very different from ours. Growing up, Mom made a Chef Boyardee pizza from the box. Now that I'm grown, we get a $5 pizza from Lil Caesars. :-D

I've heard of Frutta Di Mare, but I've never had any. My daughter would probably flip for it!