Holiday Cooking: Feast Of The Seven Fishes

Above: A great Italian recipe for Christmas Eve - Feat of the Seven Fishes
Above: A great Italian recipe for Christmas Eve - Feat of the Seven Fishes

Around the world many different cultures celebrate Christmas and the holiday season differently, why not impress your family and guests this year by showing off your cooking prowess with a little taste of Italy. Don’t worry, Mom can still cook a Turkey for Christmas day, and you can start a new tradition for the Christmas Eve meal. In Italy Christmas Eve is known as “La Vigilia” or, for readers who don’t know Italian well, Feast of the Seven Fishes; traditionally this dinner is meatless and consists of many seafood dishes. For this recipe we turned to Chef Davide, of Ovest Restaurant, for a modern take on the classic Italian meal. He suggested that you serve your guests with Tagliolini al Nero con Sugo di Aragosta; homemade squid ink pasta with lobster is sure to impress any of your guests (and will definitely impress any future in-laws). And don’t worry – it’s not nearly as tricky as you think.


For the Lobster Stock
• 2 Nova Scotia lobster shells
• 3 tbsp. tomato paste/concentrate
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 2 stalks of celery
• 2-3 bay leaves
• 2-3 sprigs of thyme
• 4 litres of water

For the Squid Ink Pasta
• 500gr 00 Pasta/Pizza Flour
• 3 whole eggs
• 9 egg yolks
• 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 pinch of salt
• 2 tbsp. cuttlefish or squid ink

For the Sauce:
• 1 litre finished lobster stock (recipe above)
• 1 small shallot (finely diced)
• 5 tbsp. of cured cherry tomatoes in oil (substitute 3 tbsp. of sundried tomatoes chopped)
• 8 tbsp. of pure cherry tomatoes (canned) (substitute 8 tbsp. of plain tomato sauce)
• 8 sprigs of fresh chives
• 4 tbsp. of unsalted butter
• Meat of 2 lobsters (tails/knuckles/claws)



For the pasta combine all of the ingredients in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix on low speed for 10 minutes. The dough should come together within 2-3 minutes of mixing. If the dough appears to be wet add 1-2 tbsp of flour, if the dough seems dry and crumbles add 1-2 tbsp of water. The dough should combine and be firm and resist when you push your finger into it.

*A note on cuttlefish/squid ink. Most reputable fishmongers in the city carry this product either refrigerated or frozen. If you are having issues sourcing this ingredient try smaller fish shops and ethnic food markets in your city.

Once the pasta is mixed wrap it with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30-60 minutes.

Using an electric or hand powered pasta machine roll the sheets of pasta out to 2mm in thickness. Start on the highest number and work your way down one number at a time on the dial of thickness until you achieve 2mm.

Once you have the pasta rolled out divide the sheet into 4 equal portions. If you have a cutting attachment for tagliolini then use that. If not, flour the sheets of pasta, fold in half, flour again and fold in half. Using a sharp knife cut fine ribbons 2-3mm in thickness. Separate the strands of pasta and dust in flour to prevent clumping. Store pasta covered in the fridge until ready to use.

Lobster + Lobster Stock

The next step is to blanch the lobster. When selecting lobsters make sure they are lively. The freshness of the lobster is key in this dish. Bring 10-12 litres of salted water to a boil and blanch the lobster for 7mins for 1lbs. lobsters and 9-10mins for 1 1/4-1 ½ lbs. lobsters. Remove lobsters and shock in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. Once the lobsters are cooled proceed to remove the tail, knuckle and claw meat. Keep the tail and claw meat intact for presentation. Cut the lobster tails in half length-wise.

*A note on cooking lobsters for this dish. If the lobsters are slightly undercooked they will finish cooking in the final sauce.

With the shells from the now cleaned lobster combine the rest of the ingredients in a pot and allow to gently simmer for 1 hour. Strain the stock through a fine strainer and allow it to cool before storing. Lasts 3 days in the fridge.

The Sauce

For the sauce begin by lightly sautéing the shallots in extra virgin olive oil for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. Add the cured cherry tomatoes; if those are unavailable add chopped sundried tomatoes and sauté for an additional minute to release the flavour into the oil. Add the tomato puree/sauce to stop the cooking of the shallots then add the finished lobster stock. Reduce the liquid by 1/8. While reducing the sauce add the lobster meat once nearly done to heat and cook through if needed.

To Serve

Bring 6 litres of salted water to a boil. Cook the fresh pasta for 2-3 minutes. Drain and reserve 250ml of the pasta water. Combine the cooked squid ink pasta, the sauce and butter. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, glazing the pasta with the sauce. Add a few spoons of the pasta water if necessary to thin the sauce out if it has over reduced.

Divide the pasta into 4 pasta bowls or plates. Garnish the tops of the pasta with the cherry tomatoes and lobster tails and claws. Add finely cut chives to garnish.

Serve immediately.

Note: Recipe Serves 4.

Christian Dare

Christian Dare spent much of his formative years working in the fashion industry as a Visual Manager before pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Design. He is the Principal at Christian Dare Creative, the co-founder of Stylist Box and runs a successful men’s lifestyle blog, Christian Dare Edited,focusing on menswear, interior design and craft cocktails. You can find him online at or follow him on Twitter @christiandare but he is more fun on Instagram christian_dare. 

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>