Cooking At Home: Italian Seafood Stew inspired by Giada De Laurentiis' recipe

It's been a long time since I've made the Ligurian Fish Stew, a recipe I got from Giada De Laurentiis' cookbook, Giada At Home. But the cold evenings have gotten me dreaming about warm hearty stew with a side of garlic rubbed ciabatta crostini to go with it. The recipe asks only for white fish but tonight I decided to go a little fancy and also added shrimp!

The fish stew is terribly easy to make and the best part is that the stew is a meal in itself and can easily be made in a larger batch so that you can have leftovers the next night, now that to me is time wisely spent.

You can easily dip any kind of bread you wish into the fish stew but I find it rather pleasing to taste the crunchy garlic rubbed crostini. The garlic crostini along with the tomato-based fish stew is a perfect match and makes the rather homely and seemingly-humble dinner into something rustically beautiful and exciting, transforming it into a kind of fancy comfort food.

INGREDIENTS (For 4-6 servings):
For the Stew you will need...
1/3 Cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 Medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces (I used organic yellow dutch potatoes and left the skin on)

2 Medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (I used organic carrots and left the skin on)

1 Onion, chopped

2 Garlic cloves, halved


3/4 Cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian San Marzano tomatoes (I used a few different kinds of crushed tomatoes in the past to make this recipe and found that the San Marzano tomatoes that is suggested for the recipe has the best flavor.  I also used 2 cans of tomatoes since the amount of seafood I was putting into my stew was over 1 1/2 pounds)

1/2 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish

1 1/2 Pounds skinless white fish fillets, such as halibut, cod, or arctic char, but into 3/4-inch chunks (I used less than a pound of white fish since I was also adding shrimp to my stew)

1/4 Cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

I also added a whole bag of thawed frozen shrimp from Trader Joe's

For the Crostini you will need...
1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta bread, trimmed and cut into 14 (1/2-inch-thick) slices (I opted to skip trimming the bread and simply sliced the bread to the suggested 1/2-inch thickness)

Olive oil, for drizzling

1 Garlic clove halved

STEP 1:  In a 6-quart, heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven, heat 1/3 cup oil over med-high heat. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic. Season with salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5-8 minutes.

STEP 2:  Turn the heat to high and add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

STEP 3:  Add the tomatoes, 1 cup water, and the red pepper flakes (since I was using 2 cans of tomatoes for my stew I added 2 cups of water instead of 1 as directed). Reduce the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, 18-20 minutes (I checked to see if the vegetables were done by tasting one of the potatoes, it just so happened that my vegetables weren't fully cooked until about 25-30 minutes or so).

STEP 4:  While the stew is simmering make the crostini. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

STEP 5:  Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (the recipe does not clearly specify but drizzling only one side of the bread is sufficient). Bake until light golden, about 10 minutes (at 10 minutes I found my bread to only be lightly toasted and had not reached the light golden color, I however prefer toast that is not too hard and so opted to take out my crostini at that point even though the light golden color had not been reach. I found at this point my bread was perfect toasted to my taste). Cool for 2 minutes. Rub the warm toasts with the cut side of the garlic.

STEP 6:  Season the fish with salt and add to the stew. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 5-8 minutes. (I seasoned the fish with salt before adding it into the stew but did not season the shrimp).

STEP 7:  Season the stew with salt, to taste (if needed, I found that my stew did not need additional salt). Ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes on top (obviously optional). Serve with the crostini.

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