Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Lately I've been literally obsessed with cioppino, the Italian seafood stew and have been ordering at several local restaurants. The best one yet was the one I ate on my mom's birthday at Sea Salt on Third Avenue South in Naples. Not only the seafood -mussels, snapper, shrimp, calamari and scallops- was masterfully prepared and just tender enough, the tomatoes Chef Fabrizio Aielli uses are so red and so flavorful they make your taste buds sing. Or at least they made mine sing, because you know how obsessed I am with good tomatoes.
The idea of making a Cioppino pasta came a coupleof days after my mom's birthday dinner when it was time to decide what to make with the leftover Cioppino. It was too much for me to eat at lunch but it wasn't enough to serve for the two of us at dinner, so I thought, why not make a good pasta out of it? All that I had to do was adding more good quality canned tomatoes (I used Cento) to the stew to thicken it up a little and serve it over pasta with a side of garlic bread. It was out-of-this-world. And of course, next thing I knew, I was looking for a recipe to make it from scratch -which I found and then modified a little on epicurious.com
Adapted from Epicurious.com
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 (28- to 32-ounces) can whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken broth
18 small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams (1 1/2 pound) such as littlenecks, scrubbed
1 pound skinless red snapper or halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20), shelled (tails and bottom segment of shells left intact) and deveined
3/4 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 box short pasta, such as cavatappi or fusilli
Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in olive oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes.)
While clams are cooking prepare past according to package directions.
Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in drained pasta. Garnish with parsley, if desired.