Have you heard of the American-Italian tradition “Seven Fishes?” My husband’s family honors this tradition and when we spent last Christmas in Connecticut, the whole family had a huge seven fishes feast. The feast is rooted in Catholic tradition of A Christmas Eve vigilia di magro (“lean feast”) abstaining from meat consumption on certain holidays and the sea-faring Italian people’s love of fish dishes. Although you’ll find varying explanations of how American Italians came to celebrating on Christmas Eve with the number of seven fishes, it has been a time-honored tradition in many families. Families honor this in different ways. Some make a soup with several fishes in it and have a few other fish dishes, totaling seven kinds of fish in one meal. My husband’s family has certain fish dishes that each family makes and they bring along to all meet at their grandmother’s house. They enjoy a fun Christmas Eve full of family time, great food, games, presents, singing, wine and most of all joy. It’s truly a beautiful tradition.
This is a family tradition we would love to continue but I have been eating plant-based for the last 15 years. And this year, we will actually be in Italy for Natale! So I thought it would be fun to put a vegetable-based twist on this tradition and have our own Seven Veggies Holiday Feast. It still honors the roots of this feast and also is a compassionate and healthy way to honor the tradition. Even if you don’t want to do all veggies, this may give you some ideas of dishes to add to your holiday meal. If you have family or friends attending your holiday celebrations that eat plant-based, this may help them feel welcomed. With compassion, eco-consciousness and health as a priority all on the rise, so is plant-based eating. The chances of you having someone in your family who prefers to eat vegan, vegetarian or even just more plants than anything else, is high. This post will offer you an idea of how to do a completely plant-based celebration or just add a few veggie dishes to your meal.
The Feast of the Seven Veggies
For our Seven Veggies Feast, we decided to pick some of our favorite vegetables that were available to us locally. There are some other considerations you may want to make when planning your feast.
- Having a salad and/or soup can be an easy way to start the meal with some light and easy veggies. An easy and delicious soup is butternut squash – a favorite in our house!
- Crudités is another way to do a quick and easy starter. Perfect for while the food is still cooking. You can make one dip or a variety of dips and add some fresh cut veggies and you’re done.
- Broccoli Rabe is the Italian “Christmas broccoli” so you may want to consider having a Christmas broccoli as part of your meal.
- Having at least a few hearty, roasted veggie dishes as part of your meal is important, especially if you’re only eating veggies.
- If you wanted to make this even easier, you could do a several veggie stew and a few other veggie dishes and have only about 3-4 dishes total. This is commonly done with the seven veggies within some families.
- Most seven dishes feasts include a pasta (Italian!) so you may want to include a traditional pasta or spiralized veggie in your feast. We did both to make sure we had enough food that the kids would eat.
- Consider adding nuts and seeds to some of the dishes to add a flavor variety and some extra protein. Although most veggies have plenty of protein, this will add healthy fats and proteins to complete your meal.
- Consider adding different spices, sauces and fruits to the dishes to make your dishes stand out.
Here are the courses we chose:
- Rainbow radish salad with a lemon basil vinaigrette
- Roasted eggplant with tahini sauce and pomegranate seeds
- Roasted cauliflower with dill, harissa tahini sauce, dates and pistachio
- Roasted beet steaks with aged balsamic, seasoned
- Broccolini with garlic and lemon
- Spiralized zucchini spaghetti with a homemade tomato sauce
- Roasted sweet potatoes with onion and seasoning
We also had foccacia, crudités and a vegan chocolate mousse dessert to round off this plant-based Feast of the Seven Veggies.
I hope you give this a try or this gives you some ideas of veggies to add to your holiday meal this year! What do you think? Will you add in some veggies or do a whole Feast of the Seven Veggies? Tell me below! I’d love to hear if you give it a try.
Happy holidays to you and your family!