Cioppino with Garlic Toast (Inspired by THE IMMORTALISTS) (2024)

This Cioppino may be the best meal I’ve made all year. For reals.

Seafood lovers, you are in for a TREAT.

Even before I decided that I was going to keep readingThe Immortalists, I knew I wanted to make a dish that related to San Francisco. Simon is the first sibling you meet inThe Immortalists, and his story quickly takes him to The City by the Bay. His love of SF and the freedom he experiences there is what made me fall in love with this novel, and I knew I had to pay tribute to his beloved city with my book-inspired recipe.

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Side note: I actually am terrified of San Francisco. It’s a beautiful and wonderful city, but I am convinced it’s cursed for me. I’ve been there twice, and both times I have been dumped by long-term boyfriends within two days of returning home. Coincidence? Maybe. However, it’s going to be a cold day in hell before I ever set foot in that city again. I rather like my husband, so I’m not taking any chances!

I guess you could argue that Simon’s time in SF is also a little cursed; after all, that’s whatThe Immortalists is all about. How much of life is governed by fate? How much is simply coincidence? And, what’s due to our own choices? If Simon had never gone to that city, would his life have turned out differently?

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While you ponder that deep thought, let’s get back to this recipe. One thing Idoremember favorably about San Francisco is the food. It’s fabulous, especially the Italian restaurants and the fresh seafood down by the wharf. I orignally wanted to recreate theZuni Cafe’s Pasta with Braised Bacon and Tomato Sauce for this post,but I’ll be honest with you — my version of that recipe completelybombed. I guess that’s what I get for taking a shortcut and not braising the bacon.

However, given how awesome this Cioppino came out, I think my #epicfail was a blessing in disguise. My life would be worse for not having known this dish. As will yours be if you don’t try making this.

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A traditional cioppino is an Italian fish and seafood stew that originated in San Francisco; it can be found at pretty much any restaurant in North Beach or down by the water. The classic version contains different kinds of shellfish and fish, and it looks a little labor intensive. I decided to make a cioppino that uses fresh mussels, clams, and shrimp, as well as the traditional tomato and wine sauce. However, my version is not a soup (though you can drink the sauce — more on that later) and, BONUS, it comes together in just 30 minutes. (!!!)

AND IT’S FREAKIN’ DELICIOUS.

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I’m convinced the key to this dish is the San Marzano tomatoes I used from Pomi. They come in a nice little box, which means they don’t have that faintly metallic taste that even the best canned tomatoes do. These chopped tomatoes tasted so incredibly fresh, so I didn’t have to add a ton of spices to the sauce to get it to taste good. (Note: Pomi did not pay me to say any of this. This brand is justthat good).

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I used sparkling white wine in this recipe, which I acknowledge is a little unusual. However, I’m convinced that the sugary wine lends extra depth to the sauce and perfectly balances the acidity of the tomatoes. If you use dry white wine in this recipe, you should add about 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar with the tomatoes to maintain that balance.

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The seafood ended up steaming perfectly in the sauce, which I really should start calling “broth,” even though, like I said, this Cioppino is not a soup, per se. The hint of fennel, the briny juices from the mussels and clams, and the little bit of heat from the red pepper flakes blend together to make a robust, savory sauce that I greedily slurped up with a spoon after I had finished my share of the shellfish (and ran out of bread).

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Eating the tomato sauce this way may seem a little odd, but I’m pretty sure that if you grew up eating in an Italian kitchen (or at a good Italian restaurant), no one will look at you strangely if you polish off the sauce like it’s soup. You don’t want to let all that deliciousness go to waste!

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And, the kicker of this entire dish — serving it with garlic toast for dipping. I mean, you can eat the toast on its own, but the taste of the buttery, salty, crunchy bread dipped into that savory seafood broth just makes your eyes roll back in ecstasy. Even my husband, who doesn’t eat shellfish, tried the toast this way and admitted it was delicious.

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This Cioppino was ridiculously easy to make. Seafood cooks quickly, and apart from making the toast, this is a one-pot meal. Keep in mind that the mussels will open before the clams, so don’t be alarmed if it seems like the clams are taking awhile to open. It probably took about 15 minutes for all the seafood to open (apart from the duds, which you should not attempt to eat).

A good way to get the shells to open is to start moving them around with the tongs in the pot after they’ve been simmering about 5 minutes. Sometimes they just need a little jiggle, and the steam from the sauce will soon force them open. Then, put the lid back on the pot for 1-2 minute intervals, and more shells should be open once you lift the lid again.

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Bonus: If you happen to have leftovers of this dish (doubtful), the cioppino tastes just as good the next day! Keep whatever’s left in the pot you cooked in, place the lid on it, and then store it in the fridge. When you’re ready for your meal, just set the pot straight from the fridge over medium-high heat, set the lid slightly ajar, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes until heated through. Make up another batch of garlic toast, and you’re good to go!

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Mock Cioppino with Garlic Toast

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 20 minutes mins

Total Time 30 minutes mins

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Mock Cioppino

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic (optional--See Note**)
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups boxed, chopped San Marzano tomatoes (such as Pomi)
  • 1 cup sparkling white wine
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs raw mussels
  • 12 raw little neck clams
  • 1/2 lb medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Garlic Toast

  • 1 baguette
  • margarine or salted butter
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

PREP INSTRUCTIONS

  • Finely chop shallot and set aside.

  • If using, chop garlic and set aside.

  • Chop parsley and set aside 2 tbsp for the cioppino and 1 tbsp for the garlic toast.

  • Cut lemon into wedges and set aside.

  • Cut baguette lengthwise in half, and then again into pieces so you have long slices of toast. Set aside.

Cioppino Cooking Instructions

  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until butter melts and starts to foam, about 1 minute.

  • Add the shallot and fennel seed. Saute about 5 minutes, until the shallot is softened and translucent.

  • Add the red pepper flakes and, if using, the garlic, and saute for 1 additional minute until fragrant.

  • Add tomatoes, wine, and salt, and bring mixture to a simmer.

  • Add the shrimp to the pot, then carefully slide the mussels and clams into the pot. Toss to coat the shells with some of the sauce, and then cover the pot and cook 4-6 minutes, until the shellfish start to open.

  • Use tongs to remove the shrimp and the opened mussels and clams to a large bowl, keeping them warm on the stove. Move the remaining shellfish around the pot, then cover again for another 2 minutes. Repeat process until all opened shellfish are in the large bowl. Discard any shellfish that do not open.

  • Turn off the heat and carefully slide the shrimp and all opened mussels and clams back into pot. Toss to cover with sauce, and then sprinkle 1 tbsp of the chopped parsley and garnish with half the lemon wedges.

  • Remove pot from heat and ladle shellfish, shrimp, and sauce into four bowls. Garish each bowl using 1 tbsp of chopped parsley and remaining lemon wedges. Serve with garlic toast for dipping.

GARLIC TOAST COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place bread slices in a toaster oven or toaster for until lightly toasted. (Toasting times may vary).

  • Remove toast and immediately spread with butter or margarine, then sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, and fresh parsley. (All amounts here are to taste). Serve alongside mock cioppino for dipping.

Notes

**I made this dish without using any garlic due to personal preferences, and it was delicious. However, I know most people like a healthy dose of garlic with their tomatoes and seafood, so I included it in this recipe. Feel free to omit the garlic if it's not to your taste.

This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light:https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/mussels-with-spicy-tomato-sauce

Cioppino with Garlic Toast (Inspired by THE IMMORTALISTS) (12)

Mock Cioppino with Garlic Toast

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 20 minutes mins

Total Time 30 minutes mins

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Mock Cioppino

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic (optional--See Note**)
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups boxed, chopped San Marzano tomatoes (such as Pomi)
  • 1 cup sparkling white wine
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs raw mussels
  • 12 raw little neck clams
  • 1/2 lb medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Garlic Toast

  • 1 baguette
  • margarine or salted butter
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

PREP INSTRUCTIONS

  • Finely chop shallot and set aside.

  • If using, chop garlic and set aside.

  • Chop parsley and set aside 2 tbsp for the cioppino and 1 tbsp for the garlic toast.

  • Cut lemon into wedges and set aside.

  • Cut baguette lengthwise in half, and then again into pieces so you have long slices of toast. Set aside.

Cioppino Cooking Instructions

  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until butter melts and starts to foam, about 1 minute.

  • Add the shallot and fennel seed. Saute about 5 minutes, until the shallot is softened and translucent.

  • Add the red pepper flakes and, if using, the garlic, and saute for 1 additional minute until fragrant.

  • Add tomatoes, wine, and salt, and bring mixture to a simmer.

  • Add the shrimp to the pot, then carefully slide the mussels and clams into the pot. Toss to coat the shells with some of the sauce, and then cover the pot and cook 4-6 minutes, until the shellfish start to open.

  • Use tongs to remove the shrimp and the opened mussels and clams to a large bowl, keeping them warm on the stove. Move the remaining shellfish around the pot, then cover again for another 2 minutes. Repeat process until all opened shellfish are in the large bowl. Discard any shellfish that do not open.

  • Turn off the heat and carefully slide the shrimp and all opened mussels and clams back into pot. Toss to cover with sauce, and then sprinkle 1 tbsp of the chopped parsley and garnish with half the lemon wedges.

  • Remove pot from heat and ladle shellfish, shrimp, and sauce into four bowls. Garish each bowl using 1 tbsp of chopped parsley and remaining lemon wedges. Serve with garlic toast for dipping.

GARLIC TOAST COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place bread slices in a toaster oven or toaster for until lightly toasted. (Toasting times may vary).

  • Remove toast and immediately spread with butter or margarine, then sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, and fresh parsley. (All amounts here are to taste). Serve alongside mock cioppino for dipping.

Notes

**I made this dish without using any garlic due to personal preferences, and it was delicious. However, I know most people like a healthy dose of garlic with their tomatoes and seafood, so I included it in this recipe. Feel free to omit the garlic if it's not to your taste.

This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light:https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/mussels-with-spicy-tomato-sauce

Cioppino with Garlic Toast (Inspired by THE IMMORTALISTS) (2024)

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