Spoonfuls of comfort and childhood memories all wrapped up in a bowl of Smoky Seafood Stew that is easy enough to cook up any night of the week — count me in. One of my favorite recipes from my new cookbook, Whole Cooking and Nutrition, the inspiration for this recipe comes from the summer clam bakes I enjoyed growing up. And, it is safe to say that I have carried my love for seafood, especially little neck clams, joyfully into my adult life. Savory herbs like oregano and thyme are balanced out by the sweetness of the slightly smoky tomato broth that is seasoned by the briny goodness of the clams. Citrus zest offers a lightness that carries this dish into the summer months.
This Smoky Seafood Stew is simple enough to make for a weeknight dinner but sophisticated enough for a festive holiday gathering. Being 100% Italian, I have grown up enjoying the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve and this recipe was made for such an occasion.
We used to spend every Eve with my great Aunt Anita. She would cook a very authentic version on the Seven Fish Feast that included salt cod her sister in Italy would send to her. She would reconstitute it for days and then stew it in the tomato sauce we would ladle onto our pasta. The stewed cod was served on the side along with very rustic accompaniments like white beans cooked with anchovies and stewed cabbage. There were shrimp, fried smelts and the most decadent bruschetta that was soaked in olive oil and topped with freshly roasted peppers. She passed away this year though the memories are still bright and will be for some time. I plan on recreating this meal one Christmas Even and when I do I will surely share it with all of you.
For now, grab a crusty loaf of bread, toast it up and rip off a hearty piece – you are not going to want to waste a single drop of this soulful stew.
*this recipe uses the Everyday Herb Oil as a base. You can find the recipe here or use the substitutions in the recipe notes.
- 2 tablespoons Everyday Herb Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste
- 4 cups low-sodium seafood stock
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups quartered white potatoes
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 pound littleneck clams, soaked in water for 1 hour
- ½ pound medium shrimp, peeled, and deveined, tails left on
- ½ pound white fish fillets (such as hake or cod), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- Heat the oils in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, salt, and black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetable have softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, and tomato paste. Continue to cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes
- Pour in the broth and tomatoes with their juices. Bring mixture to a boil, and then add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- When potatoes are tender, increase heat to a medium and add the lemon zest, lemon juice and clams. Cover the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and fish, cover again, and simmer for about 5 more minutes, until the clams open and the fish and shrimp are firm and opaque. Stir in the parsley and oregano, and serve immediately.
- if you don't have time to make herb oil, add one tablespoon each of chopped fresh oregano and thyme when you add the clams.