One of my resolutions this year is to have more casual dinner parties with family and friends. After thinking about it, I realize the reason I don’t invite people over more often has been because I put too much emphasis on the food and not enough on the importance of gathering. With a good (not even a spectacular) bottle of wine and simple meal, you can wow your friends every time. What’s more important is that you will give your friends a true gift– an opportunity to enjoy good conversation, good wine and a home cooked meal. Even if you buy into Sandra Lee’s philosophy of semi-home cooked meals, you’re still operating way above the fray.
Seafood Cioppino is a favorite simple meal of mine. I discovered it years ago when I lived in Denver, and it has several huge advantages when it comes to entertaining: it can be made the day before with little or no prep when your guests arrive; it is a true one-bowl meal; and, chocked full of seafood, it’s healthy for you.
Wanting to serve this dish for a supper with friends recently, I searched on Google and found a recipe that’s gotten rave reviews at my house and is relatively easy to prepare, to boot. This recipe has a high degree of flexibility; if you don’t like a certain type of seafood, just omit. (And in terms of buying seafood locally, I continue to find great seafood choices at Costco, Fresh Market and Whole Foods, for what it’s worth.)
Without further adieu, here’s Grandfather’s Seafood Cioppino. By the way, I have no idea whose grandfather this is or was, but I do know this recipe is a worthy of his legacy!
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 cup minced celery
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes with added puree
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 6½-ounce cans chopped clams with juice
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 small bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- Pinch of ground allspice
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup white wine
- 12 cherrystone clams, scrubbed
- 1¼ pounds cooked crabmeat
- 1 pound sea bass, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
- Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, parsley and garlic; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with their juices; simmer 10 minutes. Add red wine, red wine vinegar, canned clams with juice, rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, allspice and cinnamon. Simmer 30 minutes.
- (Note: By doing step one ahead of time, you can simply throw in the seafood about 15 minutes before the party starts.)
- Add water, white wine and cherrystone clams to stew. Simmer until clams open, about 10 minutes (discard any clams that do not open). Add crabmeat, sea bass and shrimp and simmer until fish and shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Ladle into large bowls and serve.