Italian Christmas fish recipes: pesce spada alla ghiotta from Sicily

In this post, I’m sharing with you an Italian Christmas Eve fish recipePesce Spada Alla Ghiotta from Sicily

Make this swordfish recipe for Christmas Eve and celebrate the tasty and traditional Italian 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 fish recipes to make it still a gourmet, tasty night. 

Every Italian region has one or a few traditional fish recipes for the holidays. As my grandparents were from Sicily, and as it is the tastiest recipe I know, I’m sharing Pesce Spada Alla Ghiotta.



My favorite Italian fish dishes are usually salmon or swordfish recipes. This Sicilian swordfish recipe, 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, a little more than three kilometers from Calabria. The reason why you’ll often find this dish in Calabrian tables as well, especially for Christmas.

The other reason is that it is heavenly good.

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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, then put them together at the last minute.

5 from 1 vote

Pesce spada alla ghiotta

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



  1. Peel and thinly dice the onion.
  2. Bring a small pot of water to boil and blanch 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 for about 2 minutes per side.

  6. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet, add and brown the onion.

  7. Add the celery, olives, and capers and, sauté for a few minutes.

  8. Add the tomatoes and swordfish fillets, reduce to low heat, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. If needed, add a little water.

  9. Serve the fish hot with all the cooking liquids poured over it.

another Italian Christmas fish recipe

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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!



Claudia Rinaldi

Claudia Rinaldi


Digital artisan and curator of the Simposio magazine; maker of Gourmet Project, an Italian food and culture blog; and life in Italy relator through the Italian Colors Newsletter. Claudia lives in magnificent Rome. She loves pasta, “melanzane alla parmigiana”, hats, suitcases and airports, Christmas, and books. Her mission is to show you that Italy is so much more than spaghetti and clichés, but a land of endless traditions, flavors, and heritage.