Following Italian tradition, Christmas eve dinner called “il cenone“, is an all-fish and vegetable affair. Whereas, for Christmas day supper (in the middle of the day), all the stops come out: pasta dishes that might include tortellini (usually meat-filled) in broth and/or a meat-based lasagna, a stuffed bird or baked lamb for the secondo and lots of traditional nuts, chocolates and sweets!
Here are a few pasta dishes that one could use for the non-meat Christmas eve dinner.
GNOCCHI GRATINATI AL FORNO (Gratin Baked Gnocchi)
750 gr potatoes gnocchi
500 ml tomato sauce
200 gr scamorza cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil
sugar and salt
Heat up a bit ‘of oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion finely chopped. Add the tomato puree and a glass of water, salt and the tip of a teaspoon of sugar and cook for 5-10 minutes. Boil water for the dumplings, salt and throw the dumplings to cook until they come to the surface, drain and put them directly into the pan with the sauce. Stir well and add the smoked cheese, cut into small cubes. Pour the gnocchi in a pan and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and some butter. Bake in preheated oven at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes until it will have formed a crust over golden.
SPAGHETTI CON LE VONGOLE (Spaghetti with clams)
400 gr. (16 oz.) Spaghetti or other long pasta
1 can shelled clams
large clove garlic
1/2 c. olive oil
dried peperoncino (chili peppers), broken into small pieces
Rinse and drain clams. In saucepan, fry garlic and peperoncino in oil. Add tomato sauce, chopped parsley and clams. Simmer.
Cook pasta according to package directions in boiling, salted water and drain. Return to kettle over low flame and combine with sauce.
PASTA AL CARCIOFO (Pasta with Artichoke Cream Sauce)
400 gr. (16 oz.) short pasta
4 medium artichokes
1 bouillon cube
1-2 cloves garlic
chopped fresh basil and chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. olive oil
Peal outer leaves off artichokes until you are down to the very most tender parts, cut off points and chop artichokes into bits. Sauté over medium flame with 1/2 c. wine and 1/2 c. olive oil until tender.
In Cuisinart or blender, chop parsley, garlic, bouillon cube and a dash of pepper. Add cooked artichokes and cream all. (Adding water, oil or milk to correct consistency.).
Cook pasta according to package directions in boiling, salted water. Save some of the boiling water. Drain and return the pasta to the kettle and over low flame, toss it with the artichoke sauce. If it seems too sticky or thick, you can use the reserved pasta water to correct consistency.
Serve with grated parmesan. Serves 4-5.