Hello, fellow food enthusiasts!
So…I love cooking on Sunday nights. It’s kind of a ritual that I have, actually. I’ve noticed that many people are eating in more frequently these days to save money, and even though the economic state of the world is WAY less than ideal to say the least…it’s at least nice to know that families are getting back to the basics of home cooking, togetherness and nourishing times together. And then there’s the simple truth that cooking at home can be healthier than eating out. You use less fats and oils and if you choose to, you can cook with organic ingredients as well.
Whether I am cooking for somebody else, or just for myself, Sunday evening is usually a regular recipe testing, food experimenting evening for me…AND, I try to make WAY too much food so that I have leftovers for the rest of the week as well. This past Sunday I happened to be cooking for some special friends of mine, and thought I would take a risk and try to perfect my Cioppino recipe with a gorgeous and tasty winter salad. For those who don’t know “Cioppino” is a seafood stew derived from Italian origins.
It was developed in the late 1800s by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach section of San Francisco. Originally, it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco. It was made with the catch of the day and any leftovers. On Sunday, I used a variety of seafood… scallops, shrimp, calamari, red snapper, and mussels. This is a perfect Sunday meal… as you can make the base ahead and then add the seafood at the last moment. You can also make it as spicy as you’d like, and I add red chili flakes. I like spicy food, so my Ciopinno was on the hotter side…very delicious, in my opinion. This rich stew/soup tastes tangy and spicy and you could actually choose to serve it over pasta if you’d like.
Since it’s a one dish meal, I simply served it with a salad and last night I used soft sweet butter lettuce and spicy arugula and added sliced red onions, cherry tomatoes, radishes, walnuts, steamed haricots verts and gorgonzola dolce. My guests were very happy with the meal!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups yellow onion small dice
- 1 1/2 cups carrots small dice
- 1 cup celery small dice
- 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Sicilian dried herbs
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 8 oz. bottles clam juice
- 1 14 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup fish stock
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound mussels cleaned and de bearded
- 1/2 pound sea scallops
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp cleaned and peeled
- 1/2 pound squid body and tentacles body cut into 1/2 inch rings
- 3/4 pound white fish cut into 2 inch chunks
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 loaf of focaccia bread toasted
- In a large casserole, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil until hot. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Sweat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add Sicilian dried herbs, red pepper flakes, and fresh thyme.
- Add the white wine and let it reduce for 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, tomatoes, tomato paste, and fish stock. Stir until well combined and simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Add all the seafood, cover, and cook the until just tender, and mussels have opened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with toasted focaccia bread to dip into the broth.
- Serve immediately.