Zuppa Di Pesce (the fast version)
Christmas Eve is my favorite time to eat!! Being Italian we celebrate this night with the Feast of 7 Fishes. Now as far as I know it is not important which fishes you eat, just as long as there are 7.
I think my favorite thing to eat, and it seems to be the most common dish among the Italians that I have ever talked to about this, is Baccala. Baccala is salted cod. Almost all cultures that originate by the ocean have a version of this fish and a name for it too. It's salty and fishy and people either love it or hate it. I LOVE it.
Anyway.... This entry is not about Baccala. It's about Zuppa di Pesce.
This year I was solo for Christmas Eve because my work schedule kept me in the city, and P2 went to long Island for the night to see his family. I wasn't about to cook 7 fish for myself, and I needed to pick something easy for me to cook when I got home from work, so I picked Zuppa. Well..... a really stripped down version of it. Basically what it is, is a fish soup, typically served over pasta.
I only used shrimp and calamari. Most people use 4 or 5 different fish. That might include; clams, muscles, lobster, or crab. However it is not really limited to any of those.
I didn't see much sense in all of that work to be honest, and the shrimp and calamari are my faves!
My mother actually stuffs the calamari bodies and drops them in her Zuppa. It's beyond delicious.
Anyway, if you are down with seafood with pasta, and who isn't, this one is for you.
Without further adieu.....
(this recipe will serve 2-3)
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes
5 or 6 big basil leaves
1/2 a cup good red wine
1/2 a pound of shrimp (cleaned and deveined by the fish guy)
1/2 a pound of calamari (bodies and tentacles)
Crushed red pepper
As far as pasta goes, I like a thick spaghetti, but you can use regular spaghetti, linguini, or even fettucini. Whatever you want really.
Start by heating up a large pan to medium. Pour in some olive oil and add the minced garlic. While that is cooking (don't let it brown), open your tomatoes and crush them with your hands. When the garlic gets nice and soft add your tomatoes, including the liquid they will be packed in.
You can turn the heat up a little at this point to get the tomatoes up to a simmer. Now add the wine. I say about half a cup, but use your judgment. It's really about the taste you are looking for. Try half a cup and after it cooks for a few minutes, taste to see if you want more.
Then add the salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper all to taste.
Let is simmer for a bit and taste again to see if you need to adjust anything.
While that is simmering get out your seafood. Make sure all the shrimp is cleaned to your liking. Also cut up the calamari into rings. About 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick. Then throw it all in to the tomatoes.
Stir it up a bit. Turn it down to a medium low, and cover. It should get to a slow simmer. It's important to note that the seafood will give off some water which will be salty so easy on the salt that you are adding prior to this step.
Let that go for a while and get your water started to cook the pasta (don't forget to salt your water). About half a pound of pasta will be fine.
When the pasta is cooked add it directly into the pan with the sauce letting some of the pasta water get into the pan. The starch will help the sauce!
Mix it all up, and then add your basil. It's great if you can chiffonade it. That means to make little ribbons. Click here for a video on how to do that. It is the easiest knife cut besides the ever popular "chop"!
That's all there is to it!!!
Most Italians will tell you that you can not use grated cheese on this, but I don't care. I would have used some, but I didn't have any.
Once again, a beg you to try this out and tell me what you think. If you can, add some fresh clams or muscles. About 5 mins before you are ready to add the pasta, get the clams/ muscles in the sauce and cover it again. By the time you add the pasta the clams/ muscles should all be open and cooked.