I have always wanted to prepare the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes (La Cena Della Vigilia) for Christmas Eve.  I love seafood and have visions of our dining table laden with seven different courses, showcasing all my best recipes from appetizers to chowder to the main course.

But what if your holiday gathering is a small one, or the family just doesn’t share your enthusiasm for seafood?  After some contemplation, I arrived at this downsized, one dish nod to The Feast of Seven Fishes.  A rich Cioppino, or seafood stew that is full of bright vibrant flavors, topped with a crab cake.  Yes, there are seven fishes in this bowl, and it was a feast indeed!

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To keep this recipe simple, head for the freezer section!  Last year I found a frozen seafood medley at Whole Foods.  It had four types of seafood (shrimp, scallops, squid and mussels) already prepped and ready to go!  If you can’t get this in your area, look for scallops, shrimp and squid rings in the frozen section.

To complete my seven fishes, I bought a dozen fresh littlenecks and flounder from the frozen aisle.  I topped it all off with a crab cake made with canned crab.

Not only was this meal perfect for a small gathering, but also easy to prepare!

The Lazy Gastronome


The Seven Fishes ????

  1. Crab (fresh, frozen or canned)
  2. Flounder (fresh or frozen)
  3. Shrimp (fresh or frozen)
  4. Scallops (fresh or frozen)
  5. Mussels (fresh or frozen)
  6. Squid (fresh or frozen)
  7. Littlenecks (fresh or frozen)


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, minced
  • 1/2 rib of celery, minced
  • 1 cup gluten free fish stock or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. gluten free Worcestershire sauce
  • 12 Littleneck clams
  • 16 oz. fresh or frozen seafood
  • 8 oz. canned crab meat
  • Italian parsley for garnish
  • 1 tbsp. butter for finishing
  • gluten free spaghetti, pasta or risotto for serving
  • crab cakes (see recipe link below)


Prepare the crab cakes (recipe here) and keep warm.


If using fresh mussels or clams, scrub and rinse well in cold water.  Discard any that are opened before cooking.

If using frozen fish, thaw before cooking.  You can improve the texture by soaking it in milk.

In a large, nonstick skillet (use one with a cover) melt the butter with the olive oil.  Add the celery, onion and garlic.

Sauté 2 minutes then add the tomatoes, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, stock, white wine and the spices.  Cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Add all of the seafood.  Cover immediately and cook 6 minutes.

Discard any mussels or clams that did not open!  Stir in pasta with 1 tbsp. butter.


Cioppino, with its flavorful tomato broth is delicious served over risotto.  You can also serve it as a zuppa with crusty bread, or over gluten free pasta as I have done here.  Garnish with Italian parsley and top it off with a skewered crab cake.

Notes ♪♫ While fresh fish is wonderful, using frozen is a great timesaver in the kitchen.  Look for frozen shrimp, scallops and squid, along with a white fish like cod, sole or flounder.  All are widely available in the freezer section.

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