Seafood salad, marinated days before prior to being served, has been our holiday tradition as the first course served on Christmas Eve for as long as we can remember. Mom would spend days in the kitchen preparing her menu for Christmas Eve dinner, and every one couldn’t wait to eat her seafood salad which consists of five (and sometimes even seven) different types of fish.
Here is a simpler version for you to make, made with a medley of two types of fish; squid (also known as calamari) and shrimps which are marinated with green olives, parsley, garlic and celery in a lemon vinaigrette. Also commonly known as “Frutta di Mare.”
OK, we are hopeless sentimentalists when it comes to the holidays and special occasions!
Marinated Seafood Salad is always served as our first course during our Christmas Eve dinner, known as the feast of seven fishes! This has been and still is today, a southern Italian Christmas tradition, where we spend weeks of preparation setting the stage for “La Vigilia,” Christmas Eve, celebrating the birth of Jesus!
The tradition of “La Vigilia” is all about the “feast of seven fishes,” serving seven types of seafood. We make seven fish dishes because they represent the seven sacraments according to the Roman Catholic church, where as in other traditions, the seven courses represent the last week of Advent.
Moms seafood salad is packed with flavors, it is very light, high in protein, low in calories and in fat! It is the ultimate seafood salad EVER! ….and oh so delicious! If you are a Seafood LOVER… you’ll love this one!
Although our mom would definitely not approve of reducing her recipe, shh… we prefer not to tell her. She makes this holiday traditional “frutta di mare” every year for Christmas Eve consisting of squid, shrimp, octopus, scungilli and scallops. Moms salad is really special and totally AMAZING! But it is definitely a lot work, because she has to cook each fish separately before assembling together. A dish she would prepare three days before serving.
This seafood salad is the first and one of the seven seafood dishes we always serve on Christmas Eve. And it’s the most favorite!
Here’s a Tip: This salad is very easy to make, and cost effective. We highly recommend buying the “already cleaned” seafood at your local fish market. It really helps to cut the time in half in the prep work. It is a wonderful seafood salad and one your family and friends will love you for it!
Seafood Salad Marinated
- 2 -3 pounds small squid bodies (calamari) – already cleaned
- 1 pound shrimp- cleaned, deveined- cut in halves
- Juice 2 to 3 lemons, or more to taste
- 5 ounces pimento martini olives-rinsed, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley- chopped
- 4 garlic cloves – thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- 3 stalks of celery – sliced
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ground black pepper to taste
In a shallow bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients.
Mix well and set aside.
Rinse the squid thoroughly in cold water. Remove and discard any plastic-like spine bone from the inside. Cut the bodies into 1/4 to 1/2 inch rings. Set aside.
In a large sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add some salt to the water.
Add the shrimp and boil until they turn pink, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and transfer to a colander and allow to cool.
Cut each shrimp in half and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Meantime, using the same pot with salted boiling water, add the squid rings to the boiling water and boil until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. The squid should be tender to the bite, not chewy.
Remove and drain well.
Transfer the cooked squid into the bowl with the shrimp, add the lemon vinaigrette dressing and toss together until well combine. Add some fresh cracked pepper to taste.
Cover and allow it to marinate overnight in the refrigerator, turning the mixture occasionally. Seafood salad will stay fresh refrigerated up to 3 days.
Before serving, allow the salad to come to room temperature.
Transfer the seafood salad to a large serving platter and serve.
Serves 6 to 8
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