Cioppino

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My first and only experience with Cioppino was in the form of a frozen, prepared meal from Trader Joe’s. One Saturday afternoon here recently, Mr. Prevention decided to earn some brownie points and do the unthinkable: feed ME for once!

I’ll be honest, Trader Joe’s makes a decent frozen, prepared meal…but there’s only so much microwaving seafood can take before it’s…rubber.

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I gave him an “A” for effort and finished my serving without any complaints – it was good.

But when my Bon Appetit showed up this month and I spied a Cioppino recipe, I knew I had to try it. The recipe wasn’t within my possession for more than a day before I had all the ingredients on hand to make it. I love when cooking magazines read my mind, or fulfill my every cooking desire!

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I’m not new to live mussels and I wrote a blog post awhile ago on how to check for live mussels so you know which ones to discard before cooking. Oh, and also how to store them at home…and not suffocate them to death.

As for squid…well, I’ve had some interesting experiences with squid. When we lived in Tulsa, I sent Mr. P out to buy squid to make faux fried calamari (great recipe there, by the way!). He came back with a frozen solid block of many, many squid. They took for-ev-er to defrost…and then they had to be “cleaned”.

Trust me when I say squid are one sea creature you don’t want to get down and dirty with. Buy them cleaned and raw (I get mine from Whole Foods for $7.99/lb). Otherwise, buy them frozen and already cut into rings. You’re welcome in advance for this advice because it’s seldom that selection and/or purchasing of an ingredient is a bigger challenge than preparation. In the case of squid, however, this is very much so the case.

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Are you still with me, or did I lose you at getting “down and dirty” with squid?

Anyways, if you’re still reading, you’re probably a lover of seafood or interested in expanding your repertoire when it comes to dinners at home from down under. If either is the case, today you came to the right place. This recipe is 5-star and yet very simple to make. You won’t regret stepping out of your comfort zone for this one…promise.

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Cioppino from Bon Appetit

1 tsp fennel seeds
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 8-oz bottle clam juice
1/2 lb skinless cod fillets, cut into 1″ pieces
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 lb large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb cleaned squid, thawed if frozen, bodies cut into 1/2″ rings, tentacles left whole

Directions:

Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Finely grind in a spice mill (or put in a plastic baggie and beat with a skillet…); set aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and fennel are soft, about 10 minutes.

Stir in ground fennel seeds, tomatoes with juices, wine, clam juice, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Stir in fish, mussels, and shrimp and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add squid, cover, and cook until mussels open and seafood is cooked through, about 5 minutes (discard mussels that do not open). Yield: 7 servings (about 1 1/2 cups seafood and 2/3 cup broth).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 301 calories; 7.1 g. fat; 176 mg. cholesterol; 728 mg. sodium; 15.1 g. carbohydrate; 3 g. fiber; 35.9 g. protein

Result: If you love seafood, please consider this a must-make recipe. If you’re scared of mussels or squid, don’t be…they’re a breeze! This dish is packed with lean protein and is perfect for those following a low-carb lifestyle or wishing for a low-calorie, high-protein meal. I will definitely be making this again – Mr. Prevention and I loved this meal and it was perfect for the cold front we’ve had this week. Enjoy!

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Would you believe Mr. Prevention had the audacity to say this version wasn’t that much better than Trader Joe’s? Blasphemy! The man is clearly a lunatic (and way too tolerant of prepared meals and rubbery, over-cooked seafood). But at least he and I can agree that this recipe was phenomenal.

Last day at the clinic…I hope I don’t cry! Off for a morning workout…TGIF!

Be well,

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16 Comments

  1. January 13, 2012 / 7:12 am

    I can hear MArk saying that, right now “it’s not THAT much better than Trader Joe’s!” haha. Well even though I haven’t tasted this, it looks so wonderful and delicious. I can ALMOST taste it from the beautiful pictures you’ve posted! Wow. Impressive. I love cioppino. IN fact we went to an Italian restaurant last night and I was HOPING they had it on their menu, but they didn’t 🙁
    Good luck on your last day Nicole!

  2. January 13, 2012 / 7:32 am

    Oh how I wish my husband ate seafood 🙁 I’ll have to earmark this for when my mother comes to visit in April! Looks delicious! I always order it out, but have never tried it at home. I’ll just hold out for your version, rather than try Trader Joe’s.

  3. January 13, 2012 / 8:39 am

    This looks so good! I haven’t had cioppino since I ate it three days in a row while in San Francisco a few years ago. I guess it’s time to finally try my hand at it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. January 13, 2012 / 8:42 am

    Ahh, that looks fantastic. I just flagged a recipe for Cioppino in my Cooking Light because my husband loves it. Was hoping it wasn’t too difficult to make and I am sure it was a million times better than TJs!!

    • Nicole, RD
      Author
      January 13, 2012 / 11:37 am

      I thought about trying the CL version, but the wine and fennel had me sold on the BA version 🙂

  5. January 13, 2012 / 8:57 am

    I’m very impressed!!! I love squid, but I’ve never tried to cook with it on my own– I guess I’m worried that I’ll end up getting “down and dirty” with it like you did 🙂 I should see if our g.store has it cleaned and ready.

  6. Liz
    January 13, 2012 / 9:12 am

    I love Cioppino and I can’t wait to try this recipe! My husband and I both love seafood… this is perfect!! Good luck today and at the new job!!

  7. January 13, 2012 / 9:24 am

    Your food styling is so amazing!!! I just have to say that!!! 🙂
    This looks delicious! I really need to venture out and try more seafood.
    I hope you enjoy your last day at the clinic. It’s always hard to say bye to coworkers since you work so closely with them.

  8. January 13, 2012 / 9:35 am

    I can honestly say I’ve never heard of cioppino… whoops!

    My family was never too adventurous when it comes to sea food, which could be the explanation. However, yours looks like it turned out heavenly! TJ’s is always a good bet, but still, nothing beats homemade.

  9. January 13, 2012 / 10:14 am

    I wish I could say I have more experience with seafood. I know little about how to handle mussels, and little to none about squid! I can picture TJ’s being tasty…but I bet the texture on this far exceeds that of TJ”s, but I know so many people that are unfamiliar with how shrimp is actually supposed to feel!

  10. January 13, 2012 / 1:05 pm

    mmm… this reminds me that it’s been far too long since I’ve made mussels. I smell some in our near future!

  11. January 13, 2012 / 2:17 pm

    So fancy! I’m so intimidated by mussels for some reason, but this really makes me want to take a stab at it. And I just love this series of photos. Looks like something straight out of a magazine!

  12. January 13, 2012 / 3:20 pm

    Thanks for the tips about the mussels Nicole! Fresh Market sells fresh mussels for only $3.99 a pound – crazy!

    Happy Friday and last day of work – its okay to cry!

  13. January 13, 2012 / 10:47 pm

    That is soooooooooo cool that your man cooked you dinner! And to make Cioppino at that. I’ve never actually taste it before, but probably because the only real seafood I enjoy eating is fish and shrimp + lobster and crab if they’re in things too. Mussels, squid and those types give me the heebee geebees!

  14. Lisa in NY
    January 13, 2012 / 11:25 pm

    I am with you on the cleaned squid. One time I bought frozen “whole” and my husband ended up using them as bait because I refused to clean them! Definitley going to try this recipe.

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