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An Italian Christmas Eve fish recipe: pesce spada alla ghiotta from Sicily.

Make this Italian fish recipe for Christmas Eve and celebrate the tasty and traditional way!

Italian Christmas fish recipes for Christmas Eve
Italian Christmas fish recipes

As you already know, in Italy, Christmas Eve is meatless. Traditionally, we can’t eat meat, so, of course, we created a bunch of Christmas Eve fish recipes to make it still a gourmet, tasty night. 

Every Italian region has one or a few traditional fish recipes for Christmas Eve. As my grandparents were from Sicily, and as it is the tastiest recipe I know, I posted pesce spada alla ghiotta here for you.

My favorite Italian fish dishes are usually salmon or swordfish recipes. This Sicilian swordfish dish, with tomato and olives, is probably the best of them all. 

Pesce spada alla ghiotta is a traditional dish from Messina, famous for being the Sicilian city nearest to the peninsula, 3.2 km from Calabria. And that’s one of the reasons why you’ll often find this dish in Calabrian tables as well, especially for Christmas.

The other reason is that it is heavenly good.

As said, on Christmas Eve’s dinner, it is mandatory to go meatless (if not, you’re, symbolically, eating Jesus Christ’s flesh), so Italians go fishing… at the fishmonger. They use their treasures to make antipasti, pasta, and secondi. They eat them raw, grilled, braised, fried, or oven-baked. 

Swordfish recipes are more popular in the South: Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, and Campania. Fishy reigns of fresh ingredients and tomato seasonings. 

This Christmas Eve fish recipe is perfect for busy and crowded Christmas dinners. You can grill the swordfish and prepare the seasoning ahead of time and put them together last minute.

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5 from 1 vote

Italian Christmas fish recipes: pesce spada alla ghiotta

Course Italian fish recipes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2
Author Claudia Rinaldi | Gourmet Project


  • 14-18 oz swordfish fillets (around 2 big fillets) 400-500 gr
  • 3 peeled canned tomatoes
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 3-4 tablespoons of deseeded green olives
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Peel and thinly dice the onion.
  2. Bring a small pot of water to boil and blanche the celery stalk (leave leaves) for less than a minute.
  3. Remove it and thinly slice it.
  4. Use a fork to smash the tomatoes.
  5. Brush one tablespoon of olive oil over a grilling pan. Heat the pan a few minutes and grill the swordfish fillets about 2 minutes per side.
  6. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large skillet, add and brown the onion.
  7. Add celery, olives and capers and sauté a few minutes.
  8. Add tomato and fillets, reduce to low heat, cover, and cook 5 minutes. If needed add a little water.
  9. Serve the fish hot with all the cooking liquids poured over it.

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Are you in love as I am with Sicilian food? Then check:


and… dulcis in fundo


  • the cannolo cake (I don’t certainly need to sell you this one). 


Enjoy your Italian Christmas fish recipe!



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