So, most of you know that one of my favorite things IN THE WORLD to do is to go out to dinner. With kids, without kids, it really doesn’t matter. I know that it may not always be the healthiest or most economic option, but there just really isn’t anything like trying out a fun, new restaurant or heading back to an old staple. I love the buzz of the other restaurant patrons, the ability to try new dishes, the fun of discovering a local favorite… I could go on and on.
I am always an advocate for going out as opposed to staying in. It’s hard for some to comprehend, but we all have our things, right? And I am so glad that my husband and I have this personality trait in common — and that we’re trying really hard to keep up with it despite having two kiddos.
But, back to those two kiddos — well, I get that it’s just not possible to go out all the time — and surprisingly, I’m okay with it. I’ve gradually fallen into a new routine (a mom routine) and learned to also appreciate all the good things about staying in and relaxing.
But staying in presents us with two options – either ordering take-out or actually cooking a meal – and unfortunately for my family, I am not the best cook. I can bake (sort of), but cooking real edible food is just my area of expertise.
However, I happened to have married a REALLY good cook. My husband has always been into trying new dishes, taking on new culinary challenges (beyond grilling), and even though I might not get to try the next best restaurant in town one night, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I am going to have a great dinner.
So, I was perfectly okay with spending our Saturday night in when my husband proposed Cioppino (seafood stew) for dinner. If you’re a seafood lover, this is for you, my friends! It’s the perfect combination of all the best seafood and vegetables (and even a little wine) to create rich, hearty stew. I honestly can’t think of a better dish for a chilly November evening.
Garlic, fennel, shallots, celery and onion might not create the most vibrant combination, but for a mixture that looks pretty boring, the flavors combined are unreal — and create the perfect flavored broth.
Add some tomatoes, fish stock and white wine — and you’re ready for best part, the seafood, of course! We used scallops, mussels, clams and shrimp, but I love that you can add whatever you want to this dish. I’ve had some pretty amazing versions of this with a flaky white fish as well.
Finally, as we all know, no meal is complete without bread so we sliced up a french loaf, brushed each piece with olive oil and added some freshly chopped rosemary, garlic powder and salt. A few minutes in the oven and you have your own crostini — which will perfectly soak up that delicious broth.
And before you ask, no – my kids did not eat this. If they did, I would be naming it my biggest accomplishment thus far in life. However, we’re just not there yet. So, we did what any good parents would do when they make a meal that there’s no chance of their kids touching – stuck some chicken nuggets and fries in the oven and called it a night 🙂
Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large shallots, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 1/2 cups fish stock
- 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
- 12 little neck clams, scrubbed
- 1 pound black mussels, scrubbed, debearded
- 1/2 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 8 large scallops
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 stalks thinly sliced celery
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper (seasoning)
- Thinly sliced french bread, brushed with olive oil, fresh chopped rosemary, garlic powder and salt, then baked at 350° for 10 min
- Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat.
- Saute the fennel, onion, shallots, celery and salt about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste.
- Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and fresh thyme.
- Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
- Add the clams, mussels & butter to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and scallops for two minutes. Flip both shrimp and scallops over (and mix all ingredients).
- Simmer gently until the scallops and shrimp are cooked through.
- Season the soup with salt and red pepper flakes.
- Serve soup with toasted crostini and enjoy.
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.
Grilled Cheese, Chardonnay or both?
Grilled Cheese AND Chardonnay worthy
Be sure that your clams and mussels open up. If they remain closed after cooking thoroughly, toss them!