The Traditional Italian Christmas Dinner
Italian cuisine varies from region to region, and the menu for Christmas dinner is no exception. While each region features their own classic dishes, a traditional Italian Christmas dinner always includes several courses. For Italians, this is an epic feast that lasts all day and into the evening. This holiday season, bring the flavors of Italy to your holiday dinner table with some of these regional classic Christmas dishes.
A Tuscan holiday meal starts with the standard charcuterie board, but with a Tuscan-style twist. Along with pecorino cheese, slices of prosciutto, and olives, you’ll find their iconic chicken-liver crostini, which is made with toasted bread soaked in chicken broth and covered in chicken liver pate. This regal spread gets its rich and briny flavors from capers and anchovies.
For an authentic Tuscan dinner, fresh egg pasta is a must. Tuscans often stuff their egg pasta with ricotta cheese and spinach or potato. Wild game meat lends a rich, complex flavor to the dish, which is covered in a traditional Italian tomato ragu.
Another popular Sunday lunch in Florence is Arista roasted pork loin; a simple yet satisfying meat dish that is seasoned with garlic, fresh rosemary, sage, salt and extra virgin olive oil.
Enjoy a rich, decadent dessert with panaforte cake and a glass of vin santo. The panaforte is made with candied fruit and nuts, honey, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.
What's a holiday meal without Italian stuffed peppers? Typically roasted in a wood-burning oven, Italian sweet peppers make for a rustic and tasty vehicle for a stuffing of extra virgin olive oil, olives, capers, garlic, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Minestra Maritata, or Italian Wedding Soup, is another antipasto typical of this region of Italy. Broth with beaten eggs, veal, and escarole makes for a light yet satisfying first course.
Originally from Naples, meat lasagna is a classic dish and a staple at Italian-American restaurants. Layers of fresh ingredients like tomato sauce and chopped sausage make this traditional Italian dish a real crowd-pleaser.
Another option is broiled meat with salsa verde. This traditional recipe comes from the lowlands of the Emilia region and is made with local ingredients like carrots, celery, boiled eggs, onion, garlic, and parsley.
A third choice is tortellini in broth, which is the ultimate comfort food of Northeast Italy. The homemade egg noodles soak up the chicken broth for a deep, complex flavor.
Sfogliatelle is a Neapolitan dish that is one of the oldest in the Campania region. The dough is filled with ricotta cheese, semolina, sugar, milk and candied citron.
Barozzi Cake is also popular here. Created by a baker in Vignola, the combination of simple ingredients like chocolate, butter, unsalted peanuts, rum, sugar, and eggs make this cake a heart-warming comfort food.
Eggplant Caponata is a signature Sicilian antipasto dish, prepared with tomato sauce, celery, and capers. There is also Sarde a Beccafico, a Sicilian favorite of rolled sardines stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, pine nuts, parsley, and seasonings.
Brociolone is a common meat dish found in Sicily. This delicious roll of veal gets a punch of flavor from a stuffing mixture made with minced meat, spinach, eggs, pecorino cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.
In Sicily, a common tradition at Christmas dinner is to have dessert that features fresh fruits of the season. Along with other holiday favorites like classic Panettone, Buccellato is an iconic Sicilian dessert made with dried figs, candied orange peels, raisins, and almonds. This fruity and nutty mixture is molded into a festive-looking circular shape that is perfect as a Christmas dessert. The flavor is even more heavenly with a butter crust that is layered between the seasonal dried fruits.
Discover more Italian Specialties by Region.