The Traditional Italian Christmas Dinner
Posted on December 12, 2018
Italian cuisine varies from region to region, and the menu for Christmas dinner is no exception. While each region features their own classic dishes, a traditional Italian Christmas dinner always includes five courses, a common thread seen throughout Italy.
For Italians, Christmas is a time for each and every family member to come together for an epic feast that lasts all day and into the evening, starting at lunchtime. The first course is often something light but substantial to stimulate l’ appetito, like pasta or soup accompanied by a salad. The second course typically includes a meat or fish-based dish and is commonly followed by another second course. Whatever the region, another essential tradition is dessert, the final course that is paired with a sweet or sparkling wine.
This season, bring the flavors of Italy to your holiday dinner table with some of these classic Christmas dishes:
Tuscany antipasto platter. A
Tuscan holiday meal starts with the standard charcuterie board but with a
Tuscan-style twist. Along with pecorino
cheese, slices of prosciutto, and olives, you’ll also find their iconic chicken-liver
crostini, which is made with toasted bread soaked in chicken
broth and covered in chicken liver
pate. This regal spread gets its rich and briny flavors from the added capers
Stuffed pasta in a classic
meat sauce. For an authentic Tuscan Christmas dinner, fresh egg pasta is a must
for the Christmas dinner table. Tuscans often stuff it with ricotta and spinach
or sometimes potato, a more classic filling. In this Tuscan dish, wild game (selvaggina)
lends a rich, complex flavor to a traditional tomato sauce.
Arista. A popular Sunday
lunch in Florence, Tuscan roasted pork loin is a simple yet satisfying meat
dish that is seasoned with garlic, fresh rosemary, sage, salt and extra virgin
Panaforte with a glass of vin santo. Forget about calorie counting after indulging in a slice of this rich and decadent cake. Tuscany’s version of holiday fruitcake, Panaforte is made with candied fruit and nuts, plus honey, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Stuffed Italian sweet peppers. Typically roasted in a wood-burning oven, these peppers make a rustic and tasty vehicle for a glorious stuffing of extra virgin olive oil, olives, capers, garlic, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Minestra Maritata (Married Soup). A hearty broth with beaten eggs, veal, and escarole makes a light yet hearty first course.
Meat lasagna. Originally from
Naples, this classic dish is a staple at Italian-American restaurants. Layers
of fresh ingredients like tomato sauce and chopped sausage make this traditional Italian dish a real
Charcuterie board with slices
of Mortadella, Parma ham, and Culatello, the premium cold cuts from the region.
Tortellini in broth. The ultimate comfort food of Northeast Italy, the homemade egg noodles soak up the chicken broth for a deep, complex flavor.
Broiled meat with salsa verde. This traditional recipe comes from the lowlands of the Emilia region and is made with local ingredients like carrots, celery, boiled eggs, onion, garlic, and parsley.
Dolce:Sfogliatelle. Originally from the Amalfi coast, this Neapolitan dish is one of the oldest in the Campania region. The dough is filled with ricotta, semolina, sugar, milk and candied citron.
Barozzi Cake. Created by a
baker in Vignola, a town near Modena, the simple combination of ingredients
make this cake a classic comfort food: chocolate, butter, unsalted peanuts,
rum, sugar, and eggs...Yum!
Eggplant Caponata. Prepared with tomato sauce, celery, and capers, this traditional Sicilian delicacy is a tasty treat.
Sarde a Beccafico. Sicilian food has a distinctive Mediterranean flair that comes from being situated on an island surrounded by the sea. Another regional favorite, this flavorful dish is made with rolled sardines that are stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, pine nuts, parsley, and seasonings.
Brociolone. Following the Italian tradition of serving a meat-based dish at Christmas dinner, this delicious roll of veal gets a punch of flavor from a stuffing mixture made with minced meat, spinach, eggs, pecorino cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Buccellato. In Sicily, a common tradition at Christmas dinner is to have dessert that features fresh fruits of the season. Along with other holiday favorites like classic Panettone, Buccellato is an iconic Sicilian dessert made with a combination of dried figs, candied orange peels, raisins, and almonds. This fruity and nutty mixture is molded into a festive-looking circular shape that is perfect as a Christmas dessert. The flavor is even more heavenly with a butter crust that is layered between the seasonal dried fruits.
With 20 different regions in Italy, this list is just the beginning—there are lots of dishes that would be ideal for an Italian Christmas dinner. Discover the many other regional dishes in our “Italian Specialties by Region” blog. You’ll also find everything you need for these recipes and more at Supermarket Italy, your online source for premium made in Italy products. Buon appetito!