Who knew our Mom was cooking the Mediterranean Diet style long before it was ever acknowledged to be such a healthy way of eating? She used to prepare flounder fillets this way in order to disguise the fish so we would eat it. She was really onto something as we thought it tasted like pizza! I guess she fooled us alright...we loved it! Our local fish market was out of flounder but the cod looked great & was on sale so we adapted Mom's recipe using the fresh cod. If fresh fish isn't available where you live, by all means, use frozen and make sure you defrost it thoroughly & remove any bones before preparing. If your little ones don't like fish try telling them they're 'pizza style roll-ups' and give them a try. We won't tell!
2½ – 3 lbs white fish fillets (cod or flounder) fresh or frozen & thawed
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/4- 1/2 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs (or gluten-free bread crumbs if gluten is an issue)
2 Tablespoons dried oregano plus more for topping
1 tsp sea salt, more or less to taste
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons or more Pecorino Romano grated cheese
EVOO to drizzle over fillets & casserole dish
2 cans Stewed tomatoes with juice
large toothpicks to seal fillets while baking
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels.
Drizzle a little EVOO over each fillet. Rub the minced garlic on each fillet then sprinkle all seasonings starting with salt, pepper, oregano, bread crumbs, and grated cheese.
In a 2 quart casserole, drizzle a small amount of EVOO on the bottom of the dish. Roll-up each fillet and place in casserole.
Pour the stewed tomatoes over the fish roll-ups then place a large toothpick into each fillet to prevent them from opening. Sprinkle additional oregano, salt & pepper on top of the stewed tomatoes.
Place in preheated oven and bake at 400ºF until fish flakes, about 20-25 minutes. Remember, these fillets are rolled up so they will take longer to flake.
Remove from casserole and plate with your favorite salad and vegetable.
Lightly oil fillets & add minced garlic
top with stewed tomatoes
insert toothpick into each fish roll-up
Serve with salad & vegetable
Fish roll-up plated & ready to eat
Enjoy your first bite!
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About ten years ago Gary requested Mussels Fra Diavolo to be included in our Christmas Eve dinner. Our father & husbands love the hot & spicy sauce the mussels are cooked in. We serve it over linguine or angel hair pasta. It's an easy & quick recipe that you can make as hot as you like (read Note below before step 2) . The lovers of HEAT in your family will definitely enjoy this sauce. 😋 😋
1½ heads of garlic
1/3 cup red wine (optional)
1½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
4 shakes cayenne pepper
1/2 cup EVOO
3 (28 oz) cans San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup capers, drained (optional)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted & chopped (optional)
3-4 lbs mussels, cleaned & debearded
1 can sliced Scungilli (optional)
2 shakes of black pepper
In a 12-inch skillet, heat the EVOO on medium-low.
Break up the tomatoes and simmer about 15-20 minutes until the sauce thickens.
In the meantime, cook your linguine or angel hair pasta.
Raise sauce heat to medium and add the mussels. Cover & continue cooking another 3-6 minutes more or until mussels are open.
Add the can of sliced scungilli if using. (These are already cooked so they don’t need more than 1 minute in the sauce)
Discard any mussels that do not open.
Serve over pasta & enjoy.
Note: If your not a lover of heat, sprinkle half the hot red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper first then give it a good stir. Taste it & proceed from there. You can always add heat but you can’t take it away!
All of our favorite fish in one platter, it doesn't get any better than that! We could always count on Aunt Rosemarie to make the best traditional Christmas Eve seafood salad for a tasty appetizer to start. Our husbands look forward to it and request it throughout the year. We recommend you have plenty of crusty Italian bread on hand to soak up the delicious marinade. ❤️
1/2 cup white wine
4 large cloves garlic
3 bay leaves (large size) fresh or dried
12 black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
3 lemon slices, 1/4-inch thick
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound tenderized octopus (see directions below)
1 pound calamari, cut into 1/2-inch rings
1 pound shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 29-oz can of sliced scungilli (we use LaMonica canned sliced scungilli as fresh is not available in our area)
1 pound bay scallops (the small ones)
3 lbs mussels, beards removed (if any of the uncooked mussels are open run under cold water to close. If they don’t close throw them out. After cooking throw out any mussels that do no open.
1 baccala (salted dried cod, reconstitute in a large bowl with cold water 48 hours prior to cooking. Change the water several times throughout the process to remove excess salt.)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 – 2 Tablespoons diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup green olives with pimento (any olive you like can be used, black or green or both)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon EVOO
10 cloves garlic (medium size)
1/2 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
reserved mussel broth that has been strained through cheesecloth
48 hours before cooking, soak the baccala in fresh clean water, changing the water about every 8 hours, to remove excess salt.
Clean and wash all the seven fishes.
In a deep pan, add 1/2 cup white wine and the mussels. Cover and cook until the mussels are all opened and the meat separates easily from the shell.
Remove the meat and set aside in bowl.
Filter the broth of the mussels through cheesecloth and set aside.
In a large double boiler pot that has a colander, fill halfway with water.
Add to the water all the ingredients for the broth, 1/2 cup white wine, 4 large cloves garlic, 3 bay leaves, 12 black peppercorns, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, 3 lemon slices, and 1 Tablespoon salt.
Bring to a boil then add the reconstituted baccala. Cook about 7 minutes then remove from water and set aside.
Add to the pot the calamari, cook them for about 5 minutes then remove from water and set aside.
Add to the pot the scallops, cook them for about 3-4 minutes then remove from water and set aside.
Add to the pot the shrimp, cook about 2-3 minutes more or less (depending on their size) then remove from water and set aside. Shrimp are done when they are pink & opaque.
Lastly, add the octopus to the pot then dip the colander in and out 3 times. Let the octopus cook for about 10-20 minutes (depending on size)then remove from the pot and set aside. Octopus is done when a fork pierces it easily.
In a large bowl, add the mussels, calamari, shrimp, sliced scungilli, and scallops.
Cut the baccala into bite size pieces, then add to the bowl.
Cut the octopus into bite-size pieces with a knife or scissors, then add to the bowl.
Mix all the fish together.
To the bowl add the parsley, celery, carrots, and olives. Mix well.
In a small bowl add the marinade ingredients and mix well.
Pour over the fishes and mix well.
In a covered bowl, marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Serve at room temperature as the appetizer course of your Christmas Eve dinner.
Notes: Baccala must be reconstituted in fresh colder water for 48 hours prior to making this recipe.
Once the salad is made and the marinade has been added, refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving to meld the flavors.
Christmas wouldn't be the same without Mom's zeppole (Italian donuts). Fifty years ago, our Mom got this recipe from her neighbor Lucille and that was the start of our love affair with zeppole! From her first batch, they became a holiday favorite in our home. During the holiday season you would always find a pot filled with vegetable oil, just waiting for Mom to whip up a batch. Our home was always filled with friends and neighbors and Mom always had them available. Everyone loved them and they were quickly devoured. Our zeppole are heavenly with their light, spongy texture, and sprinkling of powdered sugar. Even Santa loves them & keeps coming back for more! ❤️❤️
2 cups Presto* cake flour (sift before measuring)
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
4 eggs, well beaten
1½ lbs. of whole milk ricotta cheese
Vegetable oil, 2 to 3 inches deep for frying
Slowly heat the vegetable oil in a 1 – 2 qt stainless steel saucepan, to a temperature of 375º. (use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature)
In a large bowl, place the cake flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and ricotta cheese and mix well with a wooden spoon.
When the oil temperature reaches 375º, take a flatware tablespoon of batter and using your index finger or another spoon, carefully slide the batter off the spoon into the hot oil, being careful not to splash yourself. Set the timer for 3 minutes once they are in the pot. Depending on the size pot you use, fry 2-4 at a time. They turn on their own so no need to turn them.
After 3 minutes, remove to paper towels to drain any excess oil.
Continue frying 2-4 zeppole at a time until batter is used up.
Put the cooked zeppole in a serving dish and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve while warm.
Notes: *Presto cake flour is self-rising and contains baking powder & salt. If not available in your local grocery store, order from Amazon. Swan Cake flour is not self-rising and will require the addition of baking powder and salt; however, we don’t know you’ll get the same results.
Zeppole need room to turn over on their own so don’t crowd them. We used a small 1 qt saucepan and fried 2 at a time. If you want to fry 4 or 5 at a time make sure you use at least a 6 qt saucepan.
The powdered sugar will melt if they sit awhile before serving so sprinkle with additional powdered sugar as needed.
Our Christmas Eve dinner always included our Mom's delicious flounder dish which she made every Christmas Eve as long as we can remember. In keeping with our Italian heritage, of course it's made with mozzarella, Pecorino Romano cheese, seasoned breadcrumbs, butter, white wine, herbs, and garlic... lots of garlic! Christmas Eve just wouldn't be the same without it. Mom's handwritten recipe listed ingredients only... no measurements so our first attempt was a disaster!!! We knew it was missing something but we weren't quite sure what it was because we followed her ingredient list to the letter. We finally realized the missing ingredient was garlic... she obviously thought it was a given & not necessary to write it down! We're happy to share this family favorite with you and hope your family enjoys it as much as our family does. ❤️❤️