I wanted to use up some shrimp and fish from the freezer, and most of these ingredients were already in the pantry. For the salsa, I used up the remaining fire-roasted salsa from Costco. The recipe did not call for it, but all the cioppino recipes I've seen in the past called for fennel, so I added half a sliced head for the added licorice undertone. Instead of the bagged frozen peppers mix, I used two green bell peppers chopped into large chunks. There was just enough Kendall Jackson sauvignon blanc, and although it's a little pricey to be throwing into a stew, it gave the sauce just the right amount of acidity needed to go with the tomatoes and seafood. I used only about 2/3 of an 8-oz. bottle of clam juice, as I find it to be a bit overwhelming, and made of the difference with some water. Fresh sea scallops along with leftover frozen shrimp and cod from Trader Joe's will be added just before serving. This will avoid overcooking the fish and making it tough. I had intended to buy some clams to add in too, but just six of them came to almost $6.50 at Stater Bros. market, so I gave them back to the guy behind the counter. This has a real kick of spice from the salsa, and I forgot and added a dash of crushed pepper flakes; so this is good and spicy. Lemon wedges on the side if needed complete the dish.
Usually we'd have chunks of buttered sourdough or French bread, but we're trying to cut down on the carbs for a while; hence, the sugar-free strawberry Jello for dessert with quartered strawberries added. Perhaps just a splash of fresh cream on top???
Recipe courtesy of Dinners in a Dish or a Dash by Jean Anderson (William Morrow)
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen onions (about 2 medium-large yellow onions)
Half of a 1-pound bag frozen bell pepper stir-fry mix (red, green, and yellow peppers; do not thaw)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, with their liquid
Two 1-pound jars chunky salsa (as mild or hot as you like)
Two 8-ounce bottles clam juice
1 cup dry white wine such as a Verdicchio or Soave
1 pound boned and skinned halibut, haddock, or cod
1 pound shelled and deveined medium-size raw shrimp or 1/2 pound each shrimp and lump crab or sea scallops, these halved if large
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in large kettle over moderately high heat 2 minutes. Add onions, stir-fry mix, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and basil and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes, salsa, clam juice, and wine; bring to simmering, adjust heat so mixture bubbles gently, and cook uncovered just until flavors meld, about 20 minutes.
Add halibut and shrimp and cook uncovered just until shrimp turn pink and fish almost flakes, about 5 minutes.
Remove bay leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with rough country bread.
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