Cioppino!Or as Aunt Fay said, "Neopolitan Stew." She hosted the Feast for decades. All "us" cousins looked at the sumptuous Christmas Eve platters of fish and pushed the seafood aside and ate the pastas. This is where age has its advantages. I know better now - as did my aunts, uncles and grandmother!
Since I do not live in the "seaport of the world," I made do with what Minnesota has to offer. The meal was quick and easy to prepare and I had a short vacation to Naples this evening. All for the price of some shrimp, a few mussels and clams.
INGREDIENTS: (serves 4)
1 fennel bulb - chopped
1 large shallot - chopped
4 T olive oil
2 cloves of garlic - chopped
1 rosemary sprig
1 can vegetable broth
1/2 small bottle clam juice
1 cup white wine
1 large can of peeled tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup tomato paste (sometimes I leave it out when I don't want it sweet)
8 clams - scrubbed
3/4 pound mussels - scrubbed
1/2 pound shrimp (peeled, deveined)
1 tilapia fillet - can use any white fish
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 pound spaghetti (optional)
In large stew/soup pot, heat olive oil. Add chopped fennel, shallots and garlic. Saute till fennel is soft (about 4-5 minutes). Add vegetable broth, clam juice, tomatoes, wine and rosemary. Let simmer for ten minutes and break up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Add mussels and clams and let them simmer for 8-10 minutes - until they open. Discard any unopened ones. Add shrimp and tilapia or other white fish and let it simmer for five minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve as a soup or over spaghetti. Savor. Alternate play Volare in the background with Christmas songs. Go to Italy for Christmas Eve - even for just one hour.