1.  When making a salad, check what is on sale and what looks best at the market.  Almost all salad recipes can be modified to incorporate different ingredients.

2.  Add some crunch to your salad with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cooked bacon, toasted nuts, or French fried onions.  Add them right before serving so that they stay crunchy. 

3.  Don't be afraid to substitute low fat ingredients in most salad recipes.  Low fat sour cream, mayonnaise, and plain yougurt can be used in most recipes with excellent results.
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Italian Christmas Eve Salads
Calamari Salad
Calamari Salad
Calamari Salad
Mixed Seafood Salad (Insalata di Frutti di Mare)

Shrimp and Orange Salad
Baccala Salad

Octopus Salad (Insalata di Polpo)
Tuna and Beans
Neapolitan Christmas Salad - Insalata di Rinforzo
Calamari Salad
(Serves 4-6)


1 pound calamari, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch rings
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 ounces olive oil
3 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
Salt and pepper
3 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
1 large red onion, cut into slivers
2 stalks celery, sliced
Parmesan cheese for dusting


Cook the calamari rings in boiling water for 1-2 minutes; drain and rinse with cold water.  Transfer the calamari to a large bowl.  Add garlic, oil, lemon juice, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  Stir well, cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Just before serving, combine lettuce, red onion, and celery in a large salad bowl.  Pour the calamri mixture over and toss well.  Sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired.
Insalata di Frutti di Mare
Mixed Seafood Salad

(Serves 8)


1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 pounds squid, cleaned
1 pound shrimp, peeled
24 mussels, scrubbed
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Radicchio and lettuce leaves


Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper flakes. Set dressing aside.

Cut the squid bodies into 1/2-inch rings.  Leave the tentacles whole.  Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Add the shrimp and cook about 2 minutes, until pink.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to the dressing.
Add the squid to the boiling water and cook 1 minute.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the squid to the dressing.  Pour most of the water out of the saucepan leaving about 1-inch.  Add the mussels.  Cover and cook 5 minutes or until mussels open.  Discard any mussels that fail to open. Remove the mussels from their shells and add to the dressing.  Add the fennel, black olives, parsley, salt and pepper.  Combine well.

Place the radicchio and lettuce leaves on a serving platter.  Spoon the seafood mixture into the center.  Serve at once.
Shrimp and Orange Salad 

(Serves 4)
Shrimp and Orange Salad

16 large shrimp, peeled
4 oranges, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
6 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup pomegranate arils (optional)


Cook shrimp in boiling water until pink, 3-4 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Refrigerate 1 hour to overnight. Mix vinegar, oil, and chopped parsley in a large bowl.  Add shrimp and oranges, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix.  Divide greens among individual plates and top with shrimp mixture.
Sprinkle pomegranate arils over top and serve.
Baccala Salad

(Serves 6)
Baccala Salad

2 pounds dried salt cod (baccala)
1 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups hot and sweet peppers from a jar, seeded and sliced
1/4 cup capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup pitted black olives
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


Soak the salt cod in water for 2 to 3 days to remove some of the salt.
Change the water 2 to 3 times a day.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add the cod and cook until the fish is tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain the cod and set aside to cool.  Remove and discard the skin and bones.    Break the fish into bite-size pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, garlic, lemon juice, peppers, capers, and olives. Add the cod and gently stir to combine.  Transfer the mixture to a serving platter.  Top with the chopped parsley.  Let the salad sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.
Octopus Salad -  Insalata di Polpo

(Serves 6)


1 (4 - 5 pound) octopus
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Juice of 4 lemons
1 cup pitted black olives, sliced
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper


Place the octopus in a large stockpot, add water to cover, and bring to a boil.
Simmer until tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  To test for tenderness, pierce the tentacles with a fork .

Remove the octopus from the water and rinse under cold running water until cool.  Once cool, begin to clean the octopus.  Remove the head and discard.
Skin the tentacles by rubbing them between your fingers; the skin will come off easily.  Slice the tentacles on the diagonal about 1/4-inch thick.

Place the octopus pieces in a large bowl.  Add the celery, lemon juice, olives, onion, parsley, and olive oil.  Mix well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature.
Tuna and Beans

(Serves 6)


1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces olive-oil packed canned tuna, drained
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Put the beans into a salad bowl and crumble the tuna in large pieces over the top.  Add the onion, celery and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.
Add the olive oil and lemon juice.  Toss gently being careful to not break up the tuna.  Serve at room temperature.
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Baccala is a traditional Christmas Eve favorite in Italy; it's great as a appetizer, salad, or main course,  Baccala is actually salt-cured cod.  It comes mostly from the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, where it's fished, salted, and exported all over the world.  Once so abundant, it saved millions from famine; today cod is more scarce but as popular as ever.  It is appreciated for its versatility and as a souce of proteins, minerals, unsaturated fats, and omega 3.  The Campania region, which includes the city of Naples, boasts the highest consumption of baccala in Italy.  Legend has it that there are 365 different ways to eat baccala in Naples.  Baccala needs to be soaked in clean fresh water for 48 to 72 hours, changing the water several times, before it can be eaten.
The flavors in this vinaigrette make it a great choice to dress salad greens during the holidays.
2 cups cranberry juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 minced garlic clove
Salt and pepper

1.  Bring the cranberry juice to a boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes to reduce to a syrup that measures 2/3 of a cup. Transfer the syrup to a jar and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

2.  Add the remaining ingredients to the cooled syrup.  Close the jar and shake vigorously to combine.  Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 7 days.
Homemade Limoncello
Ricotta Cheese
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Roasted Chestnuts
Candied Orange Peel
Borlotti Beans - Dry
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