Italian Calamari for Christmastime or Anytime!

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Buone feste and Buon Natale a tutti!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all!

Every year I love to cook an Italian fish dinner for Christmas Eve. Many Italian-American families present seven fishes for their dinner, but I just serve a variety of fish and create an antipasto, primo and secondo course.

I’ve already shared a simple method to make fried calamari, a family favorite, with my ConversationalItalian.French followers on Instagram. If  you’d like to see how easy it is to fry up some calamari for a hot antipasto for your own Christmas Eve dinner, just click on the image below:


The full method for making fried calamari, along with my recipes for two other popular hot appitizers — stuffed calamari in tomato sauce and stuffed, baked fresh sardines —is being simultaneously posted on the Learn Italian! blog for my website,, where all authentic Italian recipes  for the home cook that I personally use are found.  Below is an excerpt. Click on the link to print off the entire method and enjoy!

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.


Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari and Stuffed Sardines for Your Italian Christmas Eve

It is an Italian tradition to serve fish for Christmas Eve, in observance of the Catholic holiday.  In some towns in Italy and in many Italian-American families, this tradition has turned into a feast that features fish and shellfish for antipasto, primo and secondo courses —  fish is served fried, stuffed, with pasta, stewed, and baked.  Some families serve seven different types of fish, although I’m not sure if anyone really knows where the number seven originated from.

Each year, I plan my “feast of the 7 fishes” with some tried and true dishes — my shrimp scampi,  for instance, is always a big hit for the primo course and easy to make.  Last year I had fun with the antipasto course, and cooked up Sicilian and Sardinian-style stuffed calamari and stuffed fresh sardines — which, by the way, do not smell or taste “fishy” at all if you buy them fresh.  They were both a hit with young and old alike, so I present them here for your family to try.  I’ve also included a simple method for fresh fried calamari, complete with an Instagram video, as a well-known and well-loved family starter to any Italian-American meal.

Buon appetito e Buon Natale! -Kathryn Occhipinti

For the recipes, click HERE


12 thoughts on “Italian Calamari for Christmastime or Anytime!

    1. Funny you should mention calamari in sauce… I made that also this year for my mother. I found out all she does is put the calamari in a pot of sauce for 20 min. Easy as can be and delicious! For her, it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without it!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I always use “regular” olive oil, and buy Italian brands, although most Italian brands now use olives from other countries. Extra-virgin olive oil will fry as well, but I think the special flavor gets “cooked out” of it with frying. Since extra-virgin olive oil is more expensive, and doesn’t add additional flavor, I tend not to use it for frying. Only caveat about olive oil — the fresher olive oil is better. When olive oil goes on sale that usually means it is old, so I try not to buy the “on sale” olive oil.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Yum, I love fried calamari. I make it as a salad too. We also have seafood risotto and baccalà. The ‘7 fishes’ thing is purely Italian-American. I had never heard of it until I read an Adriana Triggiani novel! Buon Natale! Cristina


    1. I’d love to read about your calamari salad! We did not have the “7 fishes” tradition in my house since my family is from Sicily. 7 fishes is from the area around Naples. The immigrants from Naples brought the tradition here to the US, mostly NYC and Chicago. There is a nice article about this in the latest issue of Fra Noi magazine ( if you want to order a copy.) Buon Natale e Buon Anno!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My calamari salad is dressed with olive oil, garlic,lemon juice and parsley.. the calamari is first boiled in vinegar and the trick is to boil the body or rings and the tentacles separately, otherwise it all turns red! Pretty simple but delicious 😋. I will have to find the Fa Noi article. There are tons of Napoletani here and no one has heard of the ‘7 fishes feast’ so it must be a specific small town near Napoli. Buon 2020 🎉 Cristina


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