I love experimenting and creating new recipes, but I have to say, for me, the holidays are all about comfort and familiar dishes that bring me back to my childhood. Now of course I play around and create new dishes that I love sharing with friends and family, but without certain dishes on the Christmas dinner table, it just wouldn’t be Christmas.
Growing up in Italy, I looked forward to any holiday or special occasion. But Christmas was utterly magical. It really had nothing to do with presents, because to be honest, we didn’t get very many; it was about the excitement of getting the whole family together, lining the tables together to fit about 20 people, and cooking traditional dishes, that made Christmas as special as it was.
When I moved to the U.S., I made sure that those traditions stuck around. A Christmas holiday without Struffoli, Insalata di Rinforzo, or Spaghetti with Clams, just wouldn’t be the same, and to be honest, I never want to find out what that would be like. Italians are very passionate about their Christmas celebrations… among other things. Especially the food. As everyone knows, Christmas Eve is all about seafood and Christmas Day is all about baked pastas, roasts, veggies, salads and tons and tons of desserts. It takes a couple days to prep and get everything together for our biggest meals of the year, but it’s such a joy and truly something I look forward to every year! I mentioned Struffoli, Insalata di Rinforzo, and Spaghetti with Clams as examples of just a few of the dishes that must be on the table. I could go on and on, but for now I’ll leave it at that.
For Below and More Tastey Recipes:
Struffoli – If you’ve never had struffoli, imagine tiny little dough balls that in texture and flavor are something like a donut or cookie, deep-fried until golden, coated in sweet honey, and topped with decorative sprinkles. They are as Christmassy as it gets. I remember my nonna giving me the job to decorate them with little silver and gold sprinkles—it truly felt magical!
Insalata di Rinforzo – My mother is known to make the best Insalata di Rinforzo in the world, a mixture of cauliflower, olives, peppers and other goodies tossed in a vinegary dressing. It doesn’t sound like it’s anything special, but trust me, it absolutely is, and I love having this colorful salad at the center of the table. As much as I love my recipe for it, there is just something about my mamma’s insalata that is unbeatable!
Spaghetti with Clams – Now I get that spaghetti with clams doesn’t sound very Christmassy, and it’s certainly not the only time of year I eat it, but my nonna always makes a big pot of it on Christmas Eve, and the sound of the clam shells being tossed with the spaghetti reminds me so much of her. It’s such a simple dish but it goes down so well with everyone and it’s one of the very many seafood dishes I couldn’t imagine leaving off the Christmas Eve dinner table. I hope you have a magical holiday surrounded by the people that bring you joy and happiness!