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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

The continuation of a great food celebration

The tradition of the Feast comes from Southern Italy. The tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve comes from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from eating meat the day before a feast day. No one knows where the number seven comes from. Some say it represents the seven Sacraments to the Catholic Church while others say they represent the seven hills of Rome.

No matter what the origin is, it’s a great food celebration. Let’s continue down the menu, shall we? Crabmeat is a great seafood to eat cold, so I have included the Italian Crab Salad. The oyster is well represented in the Oyster Soup. The lobster of the bayou, the crawfish, shows up in Smoky Crawfish Queso with Fried Bow-Tie Pasta. Gather up your seafood and Let’s head to the kitchen.

Italian Crab Salad

Every large meal needs a salad course. Here is a version of a traditional Creole-Italian dish. You can find Giardeniera near the pickles and relish in your grocery store.

1 large head lettuce, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup Giardeniera (Italian Pickled Vegetable Salad), drained

1 1/2 to 2 cups lump crabmeat, picked thru for shells

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

Break lettuce into bite sized pieces and combine with giardeniera, crabmeat and onions. Thoroughly mix oil, vinegar, salt and garlic. Pour over lettuce, giardeniera and crabmeat. Gently toss and serve.

Oyster Soup

For a soup course, I have chosen a traditional New Orleans recipe. The key to this dish is to not overcook the oysters. You want them nice and plump when they are served.

24 oysters in own liquid

1/4 pound butter

1/2 cup green onion bottoms (chopped)

1/2 green onion tops (chopped)

2 cups oyster water

1 1/2 cups milk

1/4 cup dried parsley (chopped)


Wash oysters in there own liquid; strain and reserve liquid (should be two cups). In sauce pan, melt butter and sauté onion bottoms until tender and transparent. Add onion tops and cook until soft. Pour in oyster liquid and bring to a low boil. Add oysters and cook until sides begin to curl, about 3 minutes.

In separate saucepan or double boiler, heat milk until almost boiling.

To serve, pour into each bowl 3/4 part oyster broth, 6 oysters and 1/4 part milk. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Smokey Crawfish Queso with Fried Bow-Tie Pasta

Here’s a dip that I created a few years ago. I know how popular cheese dip is here in Arkansas. This cajun spin has everyone asking for more. Feel free to use regular chips if you want.

1 pound Velveeta Queso Blanco, cut into small cubes

3/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

8 ounces crawfish tails

Combine Velveeta and milk in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, cook until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. When melted, add paprika and chipotle powder; mix well to combine. A couple of minutes before serving, add crawfish and cook until crawfish are warm, about 3 minutes. Serve with your favorite chips or Fried Bowtie Pasta.

Deep Fried Bowtie Pasta

8 ounces bowtie pasta

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

Seasoned breadcrumbs

Heat deep fryer to 350℉.

Boil bowtie pasta in salted water for 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and cool the pasta. Mix eggs and milk together. Dip each piece of pasta into egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs. Fry pasta until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined tray and serve warm.

I know that the previous five recipes contain seafood and not fish. I will make that up next time by presenting two very different fish dishes. What are they you may ask? Come back next week and see!

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