What did you eat for Fish-Mas?
Happy New Year to all of you!!
Now, rewind to December 24th, 2013 – Christmas Eve dinner, the so called “La cena della vigilia”.
I am still thinking about what I ate for dinner on that day. Why? Because on Xmas Eve Italians eat seafood ( and I go nuts for “i frutti di mare”). Not only they prepare delicious dishes, but they alternate their Holidays menus. Think about it: we are all stuffed and tired of eating meat based delicacies throughout our celebrations. Italians play it smart, they indulge on spaghetti alle vongole, or a great boiled sea bass, together with other frutti di mare scrumptious treats. However, on Christmas day – like most of us – they eat meat.
Eating seafood for Xmas? Sounds awkward? As odd as it may sound to many of you, this ritual goes back to their Catholic heritage.
For Catholic religion, Xmas Eve is one of the most sacred moments of the year, and the banning of eating meat is basically a reminder to consume food in austerity; to abstain completely from food, or at least refrain from indulging in opulent delicacies as a sign of respect and devotion of the Savior that will be born. In the past, this recall would be equal to “not eating meat” since meat was regarded as the only luxurious food that would only be rarely consumed and eaten during special occasions. Nowadays, Italians eat seafood, an ubiquitous staple of Italian modern food culture (and also one of the most costly foods…unfortunately).
Since Xmas Eve was celebrated at our place, I am sharing one of the courses I prepared – a versatile dish that can be prepared not only for the holidays.
The following antipasto is made with beautiful Mediterranean calamari, crunchy Roman puntarelle, and earthy stunning Italian purple potatoes, all paired with some Latin American ingredients (lime, avocados and cilantro), which add that special kick to this dish.
Purple potatoes puree, calamari, puntarelle and avocados with a green olive sauce
- Potato puree
- 500 grams of purple potatoes (about 1 pound)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 Calamari
- 1 avocado
- 1 lime
- 1 garlic clove
- Some cilantro sprigs
- Some puntarelle (if you cannot find puntarelle, you can use celery and shaved the sticks into ribbons)
- ½ cup of green olives
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Note: If you cannot find purple potatoes in your country, a delicious alternative is using sweet potatoes. Not only these are earthy and great tasting, but their sweetness contrast perfectly with the acidity of lime and pairs really well with calamari.
-Making purple potato puree
Put potatoes into a large saucepan. Cover with cold water.
Bring the water to a boil. Add some coarse salt and cook until tender. The potatoes are done when they feel very tender if you introduce a fork and it runs smoothly into the flesh.
Drain potatoes and peel them.
With the use of a fork, mash the potatoes adding olive oil and some water. Keep in mind these kind of potatoes are harder and grainier, so it could be tedious to mash these potatoes one by one. Do not expect a very velvety consistency, but if you desire one, you can use an immersion blender to obtain it.
Cut each calamari into rings. Add salt and pepper.
In a skillet heat some olive oil, add a garlic clove cut in half, add calamari and stir fry until cooked through and opaque; about 2-4 minutes. Add the cilantro and the juice of a lime. Set aside. Discard the garlic.
-Carving the avocado and preparing puntarelle
Cut the avocado in half. Using a tablespoon carve some flesh from the avocado and set aside. For each portion, you should be able to get 3-4 spoon shaped slices.
In a bowl, combine puntarelle with some olive oil, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
-Making the green olive sauce
Place the olives in a biker, add some olive oil. With an immersion blender make the sauce. Adjust to the desire consistency by adding some water
Using a round pasta cutter – placed on a rectangular white plate – place some potato puree, then add the calamari, and add 3 to 4 avocado slices. Add puntarelle and add more potate puree. Finish it with more puntarelle on top. Carefully take off the round pasta cutter.
Add a teaspoon drop of green olive sauce on each side of the rectangular plate
Drizzle with some olive oil.