This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please visit the disclosures and privacy policy page.
Dec 20, 2019

Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare)

This Italian Seafood Salad is often served as a first course on Christmas Eve within Italian American Families.

Italian Seafood Salad

This Italian seafood salad (also called Insalata di Mare or Frutti di Mare) is really special. It's loaded with shrimp, scallops, calamari, and mussels, all poached in a mixture of white wine and Old Bay seasoning, and then dressed in a sauce of some of the reserved poaching liquid, limoncello. lemon juice, tomatoes, and olive oil.

This seafood salad is a traditional first course for The Feast of the Seven Fishes, which is an Italian American Christmas Eve tradition. I've been intrigued by this tradition ever since I posted this recipe for salmon rillettes for another Feast of the Seven Fishes event.

Of course, you don't have to wait for Christmas to serve this salad. It's delicious any time of year.

Insalata di Mare

Italian Seafood Salad Shopping List:

  • Shrimp - I used 26 to 30 count shrimp (extra large). 
  • Scallops - I used dry sea scallops. You can substitute bay scallops if you prefer. 
  • Calamari - I bought already cleaned and cut calamari. If you know how to clean your own, you can save a little money. 
  • Mussels 

You will also need Old Bay seasoning, dry white wine, olive oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, limoncello liqueur, lemon juice, fennel, and parsley.

Frutti di Mare

How to make this Italian seafood salad:

First, you boil the shrimp in water seasoned by Old Bay seasoning for about 3 minutes. Next, you remove the shrimp, add dry white wine to the the poaching liquid, and then poach the scallops for two minutes.

At this point, you remove the scallops and then add the calamari to the simmering liquid and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, and then remove them from the liquid.

Finally, you add the mussels to the poaching liquid and cook for about 5 minutes until the shells have opened.

To dress this salad, you cook garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes in olive oil and then add chopped tomatoes. You then add limoncello, lemon zest, lemon juice, and seasonings and continue to cook.

To assemble the salad, pour the sauce over the seafood, add some sliced fennel as well Italian parsley.

Chill this salad for at least 3 hours. I chilled mine overnight.

Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare)

Italian Seafood Salad Recipe Variations: 

You can vary the seafood in this salad. I love it with clams and lobster tails if you're fancy. Octopus is excellent in this salad too.

You can also add thinly sliced celery and carrots for additional crunch.

About the Feast of the Seven Fishes:

The Feast of the Seven Fishes was brought to America from southern Italy. In Italy it has pretty much been forgotten, but it is still a tradition in the US for many Italian American families.

It is a vestige of the old Catholic rule of not eating meat on Fridays. In addition, Christmas Eve is considered a vigil, or a day of fasting, and not eating meat was considered fasting.

These days, there's a lot of flexibility. You can make seven different dishes with different fishes, including appetizers, salads, meaty fish, pasta, and stews, or you can make one fish seven ways!

Courses can also include cocktails, gelato, and other desserts. 

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Welcome to the Feast of the Seven Fishes, hosted by Karen of Karen’s Kitchen’s Stories for Fish Friday Foodies.

I'm excited to check out everyone's contributions! Photo credits above to Caroline's Cooking, Food Lust People Love, and Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare)

This is pretty much the most amazing seafood recipe. If you make it, be sure to let me know!
Buon Natale!

Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare) for the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare) Recipe

Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare) Recipe
Yield: 16 servings
This Italian Seafood Salad is often served as a first course on Christmas Eve for Italian American Families.


  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra large peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 /2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 pound sea scallops, halved widthwise
  • 1 pound cleaned calamari, sliced into 1/2 inch rings, along with the tentacles. 
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, cleaned 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 Campari or plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup limoncello
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced widthwise
  • The juice of one lemon


How to cook Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare) Recipe

  1. In a large pot, add 3 quarts of water, the Old Bay seasoning, and a tablespoon of kosher salt. 
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the shrimp. Simmer over medium low for 3 minutes. Using a spider skimmer, transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl. 
  3. Measure out 2 cups of the liquid and discard the rest. Return the two cups of liquid back to the pot. 
  4. Add the wine to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the scallops and simmer for 2 minutes. 
  5. Transfer the scallops to the bowl with the shrimp. 
  6. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the calamari. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the calamari to the bowl with the shrimp and scallops. 
  7. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the mussels. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes, until the mussels open. 
  8. Let the mixture cool. 
  9. Remove the mussels from the shells with the exception of 12 shells and add the "naked" mussels to the  bowl of seafood. Add the additional 12 mussel shells that still have "meat" to the bowl. 
  10. Reserve 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid. 
  11. Place the seafood in a large colander to drain, and then place it back into the bowl. 
  12. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for two more minutes. 
  13. Add the reserved poaching liquid, limoncello, lemon zest, lemon juice, a tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and cook for a minute. 
  14. Pour the dressing over the seafood and add the fennel, parsley, and lemon slices. 
  15. Toss the seafood to combine, cover with plastic wrap, and chill overnight. 
  16. When ready to serve, sprinkle the seafood with two teaspoons of salt, a teaspoon of pepper, and the juice of one lemon. 
  17. Toss and tasted for seasonings. 
Fat (grams)
Sat. Fat (grams)
Carbs (grams)
Fiber (grams)
Net carbs
Sugar (grams)
Protein (grams)
Sodium (milligrams)
Cholesterol (grams)
seafood salad, insalata di mare, feast of the seven fishes
salad, holiday
American, Italian

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @KarensKitchenStories on instagram and hashtag it #KarensKitchenStories
Created using The Recipes Generator

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof from Ina Garten.  (affiliate link)

Would you like to comment?

  1. What a beautiful salad, Karen! And thank you for hosting this event. It really brought back some wonderful Christmas memories.

    1. I loved your story of your college boyfriend's family!

  2. This is just gorgeous - what a special treat to make and share!

  3. I love absolutely everything about this salad! So tasty and best of all, it can be made ahead. That makes it a winner during the busy holidays!

    1. Thanks Stacy. Yes, anything make ahead gets priority!

  4. What a lovely and elegant holiday salad, Karen!

  5. Oh my, this was my first choice when you announced the event but then life got in the way. I am definitely making this sometime during the holiday season.

    1. I felt the same way, but it is a lot easier than it looks actually! I also bought already cleaned shrimp, mussels, and squid. Kind of pricey, but worth it for saving time.

  6. I love seafood salads like this - and love that you added some limoncello in there, must give that a try!

  7. A delicious and protein filled salad.

  8. Your Recipe caught our attention, so we added it to our list: 49 Best Italian Recipes
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe. Keep up the good work!


I would love to hear from you! If you comment anonymously, be sure to leave your name in your comment.