We are just three weeks into 2017 and so far the new year has been pretty eventful for me. First I injured my left knee, so I have been hobbling around the house the past couple of weeks, and then we had twenty-four people over at our home for a wonderful wine tasting dinner hosted by the Angelini family from Spello, Italy last Wednesday. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I hurt my knee doing yoga, but that is actually what happened. I will never think of the warrior pose the same way again! I couldn’t get an appointment with a specialist until next Thursday, and of course, as the date now approaches, my knee feels much better. Unfortunately, I have had to spend much of the past couple of weeks on the couch resting with my knee elevated, so my kitchen adventures have been severely curtailed of late! Our wine tasting dinner turned out great, despite my injury, and I am pleased to say that everyone had a wonderful time eating Umbrian specialties and tasting some of the best wines that Italy has to offer. (Photos and blog post coming soon!)
When I was young, my Mother always told me that whatever happened on New Year’s Day set the theme for the rest of the year. She would make us clean our rooms and demand that all of our homework was finished before we could celebrate the arrival of the new year. This is one tradition that I have carried with me throughout the years, and on New Year’s Day every year, I find myself cleaning and organizing to ensure I begin the new year with an uncluttered home. This year, my daughter and two of my grandkids were here with us for New Years, and I wanted to celebrate it by serving something delicious yet healthy. One of my intentions for 2017 is to eat more plant-based meals with an occasional seafood meal thrown in, so what better way to start the year? My whole family loves seafood, so I decided to throw together this hearty seafood soup for our holiday meal. The trick to this dish is to first cook the squid long and slow which creates a very tender texture and adds lots of flavor to the soup. I used squid, mussels, clams, shrimp, and grouper to make my soup, and threw in two lobster tails just to create an extra special holiday dish. Any firm-fleshed fish such as halibut or cod could be used in place of the grouper if you prefer. What truly makes this stew sing is the gremolata topping served on top, so I encourage you not to exclude that step! Gremolata is simply a combination of fresh parsley, lemon peel, and garlic that is chopped together and used as a topping for hearty braised meats and stews. Although it sounds like a simple step, the combination of these three common Italian ingredients brightens any dish they top. Do serve with lots of crusty Italian bread as you’ll want to sop up all the juices.
Deborah Mele 2017
Italian Seafood Stew
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Fennel Bulb, Finely Chopped
- 1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Pound Medium Sized Cleaned Squid, Bodies Cut Into 1/2 Inch Rings, Tentacles Halved
- 2 Cups Dry White Wine
- 1 (28 Ounce) Can Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Sicilian Oregano
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Seafood Stock
- 12 Ounces Cleaned Mussels
- 12 Ounces Littleneck Clams
- 12 Ounces Cleaned & Deveined Medium Shrimp
- 12 Ounces Firm Fleshed Fish (Such As Grouper, Halibut, Striped Bass, or Cod)Cut Into 1 1/2-inch Pieces
- 2 Medium Lobster Tails, Flesh Removed From Shells & Cut Into Bite-Sized Pieces
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley
- Zest From 1 Lemon
- 1 Large Garlic Clove, Peeled
- In a large heavy bottomed stockman, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the fennel, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the squid, and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes.
- Pour in the white wine, and cook over medium high heat until most of the wine has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and lemon zest, salt, pepper, and oregano.
- Cook over low heat stirring every so often, until the mixture is very thick, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- Add the water and seafood stock, and bring to a boil.
- Add the mussels, clams, and shrimp, cover the pot, and cook until most of the shells have opened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the lobster meat along with the fish, and cook another 3 to 4 minutes or until the fish is opaque.
- While the stew is cooking place the parsley, lemon, and garlic on a cutting board and chop ingredients together finely.
- Serve the stew immediately in bowls, with a sprinkling of the gremolata on top.
Adapted from Chef Marco Canora for Food and Wine.