Christmas recipes from Italy

Original Umbrian Christmas recipes

I thought it would be fun to read the Christmas menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that I shared with you last month in the article in Polmone's Gazzetta about how Christmas in Italy and is specifically celebrated here in Umbria, to be followed by all the Italian Christmas recipes that go with it. They are not my own recipes, so I picked them from all over. But they are all original Italian Christmas recipes from Umbria.
This way you can still celebrate Christmas in Umbria!

The Christmas menus

The menu for Christmas Eve

As I wrote before, the Italians eat a lot on Christmas Day. That's why you see that people keep it simple on Christmas Eve. In the past people even fasted all day and only after midnight mass did they eat a light meal. Now you see a real cena (evening meal) with a primo (pasta dish), secondo (meat or fish dish) and dolce (dessert), but it has remained simple. Here is an overview of the menu.

  • Primo: Maccheroni dolci con noci, tagliatelle without egg in layers seasoned with sugar or honey, breadcrumbs, chopped walnuts, lemon zest, cinnamon, alchermes (liqueur) and usually cocoa
  • Secondo: Baccalà, dried cod. After all, Umbria does not border the sea, so the fish that Umbrians traditionally eat is either long-life fish or freshwater fish. They usually prepare the stockfish in the oven with a simple tomato sauce to which raisins and prunes have been added to mask any salty taste of the stockfish.
  • Dolce: Torciglione, a kind of banquet bar in the shape of a snake or Pampepato, a flat sweet very compact cake with walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chocolate, honey, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and boiled must.

The menu for Christmas Day

Here is a repetition of the menu that is eaten according to tradition in Umbria on Christmas Day.

The recipes for Christmas Eve

Maccheroni dolci con noci

These are eggless tagliatelle layered with sugar or honey, breadcrumbs, chopped walnuts, lemon zest, cinnamon, alchermes (liqueur) and usually cocoa.

  • 350 gr flour
  • 150 gr sugar
  • grated lemon zest from an organic lemon
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 100 gr bread crumbled very finely
  • 300 gr walnuts
  • 50 gr cocoa
  • alchermes liqueur to taste

Knead the flour with water into a smooth dough and use the pasta machine to make tagliatelle and hang them to dry on a rack.
Chop the walnuts and put them on a deep plate where you add the sugar, the cinnamon, the grated lemon and the crumbled bread. Then stir everything well with a spoon.
Cook the tagliatelle in lightly salted boiling water, drain the pasta and sprinkle the walnut mixture on top. Only serve when the pasta is cold and then you can add the 50 gr cocoa and the liqueur to taste.


Christmas recipes from Italy: Baccalà

Baccalà is dried cod. The Umbrians usually prepare the salty fish or stockfish in the oven with a simple tomato sauce to which raisins and prunes have been added to mask any salty taste of the fish. Contrary to popular belief, preparing baccalà is not difficult. If you can buy the baccalà already soaked, so desalinated, it will be even easier. But if that has yet to be done, it is important to soak the baccalà in cold water for at least 24 hours.

  • 800 gr soaked and desalted baccalà or stockfish
  • 50 gr flour
  • 200 gr tomato passata or diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • half a glass of white wine
  • 40 gr raisins
  • 20 gr pine nuts
  • 100 gr prunes without stone
  • 6-7 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • pepper

Put the oil in a pan and add the thinly sliced onion and the clove of garlic.
Stew it for about 5 minutes. And in the meantime, cut the stockfish into 5 cm strips and run them through the flour.
Add them to the onion and garlic and cook the stockfish for 1 minute on each side.
Then add the wine and cook for another 5 minutes so that the alcohol can evaporate.
Then add the tomato passata, thyme and parsley and put the lid on the pan and let everything simmer for 10 minutes on the lowest possible heat.
Now add the raisins and prunes and let everything simmer for 7-8 minutes with the lid on the pan still on the lowest possible heat so that the stockfish does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir as little as possible, because then the stockfish will fall apart completely and that is a shame.
The fire can be turned off and before you serve the baccalà it is useful to taste whether there is enough salt in it. Add it if it is not yet flavored.
Let it rest for half an hour before serving.
You can now just roast a handful of pine nuts for garnish.

Just for your information: baccalà and stockfish are both made from cod. But baccalà is cod in salt and stockfish is dried cod. That of course gives a different taste to your dish!

Torciglione and Pampepato

Torciglione is a kind of banquet bar in the shape of a snake and Pampepato is a flat sweet compact cake with walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chocolate, honey, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and boiled must. Below you will find both recipes.


Another delicious Christmas recipe from Italy: Torciglione

The creation of the Torciglione is attributed to the creativity of a nun who had to receive the Pope on a Friday. She couldn't get fish that day because it was freezing so hard. In order to be able to serve an eel caught in Lake Trasimeno, she made one herself with the ingredients she still had in stock.
The original recipe of the Torciglione is without the use of flour, so a dessert that can also be eaten by people with a gluten intolerance.
It is a very easy recipe and it is best to make it far in advance because it only uses almonds, which means it has a long shelf life.
Total preparation time 1 hour and 30 minutes.

  • 240 gr sugar
  • 300 gr of peeled almonds
  • 10 gr bitter almonds
  • 2 proteins
  • pinch of salt
  • grated zest of an organic lemon
  • pinch of vanilla powder
  • candied red cherries and a few coffee beans for the snake's eyes.

With these quantities you can make a torciglione of 700 g, but you can also make 2 each of 350 g, enough for 8 people.


Start by chopping the almonds, bitter almonds and sugar in your food processor.
Then pour everything into a large bowl and add the lemon zest and vanilla powder. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
In another bowl beat the egg whites stiff with a pinch of salt.
Add the egg whites to the bowl with the almond mixture. Knead the whole well (by hand).
Place the dough on a work surface and to prevent it from sticking, sprinkle some sugar on the work surface.
Make your choice to make either 1 large torciglione or 2 smaller ones. If you choose 2 small, it is easier in terms of yarn.
If you make 2, divide the dough into two equal pieces. Using the palm of your hand, roll it into a roll with a thin tip on one side of the roll to become the tail. Place the whole on a baking tray with parchment paper on it and form a spiral out of it, making sure the tail is in the middle of the spiral.
Now form the head of the snake by squeezing the roll with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand at 3 cm from the end of the roll. Now with your thumb and forefinger of your right hand, press the end of the roll a little inwards so that a salt flap shape is formed that should represent the head of the snake.
Take a pair of scissors and press them into cuts over the body of the snake and you can possibly press almonds so that they look like scales. Then make a cut on the far end of the head that will represent the mouth and put a candied cherry in it. Finally, you can form eyes with the coffee beans.
Let the torciglione rest for half an hour before putting it in the oven. Finally, bake it in a preheated oven at 140 ° for about 35 minutes.
You can easily store the torciglione at room temperature for 10 to 15 days.


This is one of the most intensively prepared Christmas recipes from Italy: the photo shows the final stage of the preparation of Pampepato

The quantities of the ingredients that go into the Pampepato are not that precise. Everyone who makes it always adjusts the quantities to his own taste. Omit things he doesn't like, add more or less coffee. There are people who put a lot of pepper in it and there are also people who don't add pepper at all. That is why no Pampepato is the same and that is the nice thing!
The ingredients list is quite long, but it is not difficult to make it. Take your time and everything will be fine!

Ingredients for about 15 pampepati
  • 200 gr type 00 flour if you can get it
  • 400 gr of peeled walnuts
  • 700 gr of peeled almonds
  • 700 gr hazelnuts
  • 150 gr raisins
  • 500 gr dark chocolate
  • 100 gr pine nuts
  • 250 gr honey
  • 700 g candied lemon
  • 3 tbsp bitter cocoa
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • half a cup of boiled must. If you can't get hold of that, you can also reduce some grape juice to ⅓ and add some sugar to make it syrupy
  • 2 espresso cups of coffee
  • 1 glass of brandy

Let the raisins soak in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes and then squeeze them.
In the meantime, roast the hazelnuts, almonds and pine nuts in a warm oven for 10 minutes (even if you bought them roasted).
Place the whole roasted nuts in a very large bowl, add the finely chopped candied lemon and raisins and mix well. Some people also add some candied orange to it.
Soften the broken dark chocolate in a bain marie.
Add the honey, brandy, coffee and boiled must (or reduced grape juice) to it.
Add the spices and turn off the heat while you let everything melt for 2 minutes.
Then add this hot liquid to the nut mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon.
Taste how the mixture tastes and add cinnamon or pepper if desired.
Now sieve the flour over the mixture and mix to make it more compact.
Now form small balls with your wet hand (possibly with a little flour, but be careful with that) and place them on a baking tin on which you have placed baking paper.
Let the balls solidify in the oven.
Bake your balls in the oven at 180 ° for 15 to a maximum of 20 minutes. Be careful not to let them get too dry. When they cool down, the balls become firm.
Remember to take the baking pan straight out of the oven to let the balls cool down slowly.
When they are still warm, you can make them more compact by hand and shape them into cubes.
Now you really let them cool for a few hours. And if they are really completely cold, you can wrap them piece by piece in aluminum foil.
The pampepati you can easily keep it this way for a few months, but I don't think they will make it!
When you serve them with dessert, cut them into slices and then decorate them festively on your Christmas platter.

The recipes for Christmas Day

Crostini with olive pate and crostini with chicken liver pâté

Crostini with pâté di fegato
Ingredients for the olive pâté (2 pers)
  • 2 chicken livers and 2 chicken hearts
  • 30 gr ham
  • half a tbsp capers in vinegar
  • half a teaspoon of anchovy paste
  • ¼ lemon
  • 2 sage leaves
  • ¼ onion
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper

Boil the hearts and livers in salted water for 5 minutes and then cut them into small pieces.
Put them back in the pan and add the other ingredients with some water and let everything simmer very gently for a while.
Remove the lemon and the sage leaves and make everything fine with a hand blender or in a food processor.
Spread the pâté roasted in the oven, preferably salt-free white bread.

Ingredients for the olive pâté (4 pers)
  • 400 gr dry black (not salted) olives
  • celery stalk
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • orange peel
  • half a glass of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • salt and pepper

Remove the kernels from the olives and let them slowly over low heat to taste in a pan with all the other finely chopped ingredients and the salt and pepper.
Then add the wine that you let evaporate completely. Then turn the whole thing through a tomato sieve.
Spread the pâté on oven-roasted, preferably unsalted white slices of bread

Cappelletti al brodo and pappardelle al cinghiale

Cappelletti al brodo, a kind of tortellini filled with the meat of pigeon or capon in a broth of the meat filling. And a second pasta is usually served afterwards, which is often the case pappardelle alla lepre or cinghiale is, a very broad kind of tagliatelle with a hare or wild boar game sauce.

Cappelletti al brodo

Cappelletti al brodo
Ingredients for about 200 cappelletti

For the pasta:

  • 300 gr flour
  • 3 eggs

For the filling:

  • 130 gr chicken
  • 130 gr pork
  • 30 gr ham
  • 20 gr mortadella
  • 25 gr grated parmesan cheese
  • nutmeg
  • butter
  • oil
  • salt and pepper

For the capon broth (castrated rooster):

  • 1 capon
  • celery
  • carrot
  • onion

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, add the meat and sear. Add salt and pepper and let the meat cook.
In the meantime, knead the ingredients for the pasta and use the pasta machine to turn into slices of dough to make the cappelletti later.

When the meat is cooked, put the meat in the food processor and add the mortadella, ham and nutmeg.
Melt a knob of butter in the pan where the meat just came out and then add it to the food processor and turn it on until everything has become one.
Place the thin slices of dough on a work surface and cut out circles of dough with a round shape, for example an inverted glass, which you then fill in the middle with a ball of meat mixture. Fold the circle like a half moon. Then you can fold the points together so that they become cappelletti. Then put them on a bowl and if you don't use them right away you can also freeze them now.

For the stock, put the capon with carrot, celery, onion and salt in a large pan with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 1.5 hours, occasionally skimming off the foam that forms.
Just before eating, boil the cappelletti in the stock. Serve the cappelletti in the hot stock and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Pappardelle al cinghiale

Pappardelle al cinghiale
Ingredients (4 pers)
  • 300 gr pappardelle
  • 500 gr finely chopped wild boar meat
  • 100 gr salsiccia (pork sausage or sauce ice cream)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500 gr tomato passata
  • salt
  • 1 l red wine
  • extra virgin olive oil

Cut the meat very small and wash it under running water while squeezing the meat vigorously with your hands. Drain and place in a large glass bowl where you add 1 finely chopped celery stalk, 1 finely chopped onion, the bay leaf and the red wine so that the meat is completely covered with wine. Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
Then drain the wine and rinse thoroughly under the tap.
Place the meat with the celery, onion and bay leaf in a pan with cold water and bring to the boil. Let it boil for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, fry the rest of the chopped celery, carrot and onion in a little oil in a large frying pan for 5 minutes.
Add the crushed salsiccia (skinned of course) and bake until brown.
When the boar is cooked, drain the meat and either cut it very fine with a knife or chop it coarsely in the food processor.
Then add to the fried vegetables and salsiccia and fry for 2 minutes.
Add 1 glass of red wine to let it evaporate completely.
Then add the tomato passata with 2 glasses of hot water and bring everything back to the boil, then simmer for another 50 minutes on low heat. Stir regularly and keep the lid on the pan for the first 15 minutes.

Boil the pappardelle in plenty of boiling water with salt, drain, pour the wild boar sauce on top and serve immediately.

Roast goose and salsicce in umido con lenticchie

The meat dish here is usually a game dish such as pheasant or goose, oca arrosto, followed by salsicce in umido con lenticchie. These are sauce ice creams with lentils from Castelluccio usually prepared as a kind of soup.

Umbrian goose roast (7-8 pers)

oca arrosto
  • 1 young goose of at least 2 kg with entrails
  • 1 boiled pig's ear
  • 1 piece of fat from a ham
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • wild fennel seeds to taste
  • ½ lemon to taste

Clean the goose and burn off the remaining feathers with a flame and wash the goose well. You can also have the poulterer do this by the way, but keep the intestines.
Rub the skin well with sea salt and pepper.
Cut the innards small and fry in a skillet with oil, salt and pepper, sage, rosemary, wild fennel seeds and the lemon (if you like). Reduce the heat quickly to flavor it all.
Cook the pig's ear well and add to the intestines, then stuff the goose with it.
Thread the goose on a spit and let it cook like this. After half an hour salt again and grease with oil. Of course you can also cook the goose in the oven if you don't have a rotisserie spit. and then it has to be salted and greased again and again.
The goose needs 2 hours to cook in a not too hot oven.
When the goose is cooked, cut it in half with game shears and then into smaller pieces. Serve on a warm platter with baked potatoes.

Salsiccia with lentils

Salsiccia in umido and lenticchie
Ingredients (4 pers)
  • 500 gr lentils (preferably from Castelluccio)
  • 500 ml homemade tomato passata
  • 8 salsicce (sauce ice creams)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Prick holes in the sauce ice creams with a fork and blanch them for 4 to 5 minutes in a pan with a little water.
Remove the skin from the sauce ice creams.
In a frying pan, let the chopped carrot, celery, shallot and sauce ice cream brown.
Add the wine and let it evaporate completely.
Add the tomato, the vegetable stock powder, salt and pepper to taste and let it cook for half an hour.
Boil the lentils in cold water with a clove of garlic for 20 minutes (without salt!).
Drain the lentils and add them to the meat and vegetables in the frying pan.
Let it taste for a while and then serve immediately.

Panettone or Pandoro

Panettone or Pandoro

I already described the recipe for the panettone a while ago. You find the recipe here

Of course I hope that this Christmas you will prepare recipes from Italy and go for a real Italian Christmas. It would be nice if you let me know if it worked. And of course whether you liked it.
You can post your comment below and I would love it if you also add a photo.

In any case, we wish you tasty food and a very nice and pleasant Christmas!

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