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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Fish


While the dish originated from fishermen of the Neapolitan area, who sautéed the catch of the day in seawater together with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, The term itself most likely originated from Tuscany; where the local peasants would make wine, but had to give most to the landlord, leaving little left for them to drink. The peasants were resourceful, however, and mixed the stems, seeds, and pomace leftover from the wine production with large quantities of water brought it to a boil, then sealed the mixture in a terracotta vase and let it ferment for several days. Called l’acquarello or l’acqua pazza, the result was a water barely colored with wine, which the fisherman may have been reminded of when seeing the broth of the dish, colored slightly red by the tomatoes and oil.
Acqua pazza became a very popular dish with tourists on Capri Island in the 1960s.
The pezzogna fish (also known as “occhione” or “big eye” because of the size of its eyes) is caught in the Bay of Naples and is highly prized for its delicious taste.
Marcella Hazan was introduced to the dish by her friend from Amalfi, Pierino Jovine, and her first reaction was, “Who wants to eat fish in water?” Here is the link to her recipe:

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/fish-in-crazy-water

And here is my version

Pesce All’Acqua Pazza

Ingredients for 2 people

1 lb fish fillets (red snapper, flounder) cut into serving portions
Salt and pepper
4 mini plum tomatoes (Marzano) or cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (peperoncino)
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sliced red onion
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

Dry the fish fillets on paper towels and season them with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil and lightly fry the garlic, onion, and peperoncino in a skillet with a cover that is large enough to fit the fish, until the onion softens. Add the tomatoes, white wine, and water. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the fish. Cook, covered, 10 minutes for thin fillets or 15 minutes for thicker ones. Serve immediately, dressed with the cooking liquid and topped with the parsley.

Here is another example of my cooking philosophy – never waste food. I had extra zucchini squash and leftover cooked cauliflower, so I decided to use them for side dishes with this fish recipe.

Cauliflower Cakes

Makes 6

Ingredients

2 cups mashed cauliflower
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Butter

Directions

Combine the mashed cauliflower, cheeses, and seasoning.
Heat a stovetop griddle to medium/high heat. Coat with butter.
Form the cauliflower mixture into 6 patties about 3 inches across. Coat the patties in the panko crumbs.
Cook until golden brown & set, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Zucchini Pancakes

These are so good that I usually double the recipe.

Makes 8-4 inch patties

Ingredients

2 cups grated zucchini
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, grated
2 green onions, finely minced
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch or flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Butter

Directions

Place the grated zucchini on a kitchen towel and sprinkle the zucchini lightly with kosher salt. Let rest 30 minutes.
Squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini with the towel.
In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini with the egg, garlic, green onions, and arrowroot powder. Stir in the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Season with black pepper to taste.
Brush a large stovetop griddle pan or large skillet with butter. Scoop 1/4 cup of the zucchini mixture onto the griddle and pat it flat with a metal spatula. Add as many patties as you can to the pan without letting them touch each other.
Cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and keep the cooked pancakes warm in a low oven until all the pancakes are made.
Extras can be wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator for a week. Believe me when I say the leftovers are delicious reheated for breakfast and served with a fried egg on top.

 

 

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The word “spiedino” is a diminutive of “spiedo” the Italian food term for skewered meat. Spiedini, or “skewers,” are a popular way of grilling throughout Italy, from north to south. Small pieces of meat, fish, vegetables, and even cheese are skewered on a spiedo, or “stick,” and then cooked over a flame. This recipe is one I have adapted from the Italian restaurant, Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Spiedino Di Mare (Skewered Seafood)

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

6 oz sea scallops
6 oz large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, for breading
Lemon Butter Sauce, recipe below
Fresh parsley, chopped
Bamboo or metal skewers
Simmered Italian Seasoned Rice, recipe below

Directions

If using bamboo skewers, soak them in warm water for a 1/2 hour.
Season the scallops and shrimp with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the grated garlic to the breadcrumbs.
Lightly coat the seafood with olive oil, then dip in the seasoned breadcrumbs.
Preheat a stovetop grill and oil the grill.
Skewer the shellfish and grill on both sides just until the shrimp turn a light pink.
Place the grilled seafood on the prepared rice and pour the lemon butter sauce over the shellfish. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Lemon Butter Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Black Pepper to taste

Directions

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Add the lemon juice to the butter and warm briefly.
Add Worcestershire sauce and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

Simmered Italian Seasoned Rice

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat the broth and Italian seasoning in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil.
Stir the rice into the broth. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir in the cheese.

Italian Peppers and Onions

Ingredients

4 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 whole garlic cloves skin removed
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Few leaves of fresh basil, chopped

Directions

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and cover the bottom with olive oil. Place the whole garlic cloves in the oil and let the garlic infuse the oil and begin to caramelize. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove the garlic.


Add the peppers, onions, oregano, red pepper, salt, and pepper and allow the vegetables to cook down and soften turning them over a few times. This should take about 15 minutes.
Place the vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped basil.


Sicilian Style Codfish Cakes

Makes 8-10 cakes

Ingredients

1 pound fresh cod fish fillets, poached (see directions below)
1 pound potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Flour
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for coating the patties
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions for making fish cakes:

Drain the poached fish and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones. Let cool.
Cook the potatoes in salted water and mash with the olive oil. Add the Parmesan cheese, chopped onion, garlic, 1 egg, the flaked codfish, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the fish mixture into eight equal portions, then, with floured hands form each into a flat cake, about 3-inch rounds; 1/2 inch thick.

Beat the egg with the water. Dip each fish cake into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden
Drain on paper towels and serve with a remoulade or tzatziki sauce.

Poached Cod Fish

3 cups cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 medium bay leaf
A large branch of fresh thyme
3 chive stalks
Salt and pepper
1 lb cod fillets
1/2 medium lemon, sliced paper-thin
3 fresh parsley sprigs, stems trimmed and coarsely chopped

Directions

Combine all the ingredients except the fish in a large, shallow-sided pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low until liquid is at a simmer. Add fish in a single layer, making sure it is completely covered with liquid. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
Poach until the cod flesh is opaque and flakes easily (the internal temperature should be 175ºF).

Low Carb Codfish Cakes

Makes 4 cakes

For this version, I made mashed cauliflower and mixed it with butter and sour cream for a previous dinner side. I reserved a ½ cup of the mixture for the codfish cakes.

Ingredients

Cakes

1 lb poached cod fillets
1/2 cup leftover mashed cauliflower mixed with sour cream
1/2 medium shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Coating

Arrowroot powder
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for coating the patties
1 cup store-bought Low Carb panko bread crumbs or homemade, recipe below
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions for making low carb fish cakes:

Drain the poached fish and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones. Let cool.
Add the leftover cauliflower, chopped shallots, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, flaked codfish, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours.

Divide the fish mixture into four equal portions, then, with arrowroot powder floured hands form each into a flat cake.

Dip each fish cake into the beaten egg mixture and then into the low carb breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden.
Drain on paper towel and serve with the tzatziki sauce.

Low Carb Panko Crumbs

I buy low carb bread, such as Smart Buns, and turn them into homemade croutons or panko crumbs.
Slice the bread into cubes.
Place cubes on a sheet pan and toast, in a single layer in a 350 F degree oven. Store the croutons in a zip-top bag in the freezer.

To make breadcrumbs: Place the toasted cubes in a food processor and pulse to create course breadcrumbs.
Store the remainder in an air-tight, zip-seal bag in the freezer.

Tzatziki Topping (cucumber yogurt sauce)

Mix 1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek-style yogurt with ¼ of a cucumber (seeds removed, grated and squeezed to remove extra liquid), 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped dill.

Spiralized Carrot & Beet Salad

Servings 4-6 servings

Ingredients

2 carrots spiralized or one 12 oz package of frozen Green Giant carrot spirals, defrosted
2 beets spiralized or one 12 oz package of frozen Green Giant beet spirals, defrosted
1/2 of a shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
A generous handful of chopped parsley

Dressing
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
A couple of dashes of hot sauce

Directions

Peel and spiralize the carrots and beets or defrost the frozen spirals in a colander and dry on paper towels.


Cut the spirals into shorter strands for the salad and place in large salad bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the shallots, chives, parsley, and almonds.
In a separate small bowl whisk together lemon and olive oil with a couple dashes of hot sauce.
Pour dressing over veggies and mix well. Serve with the codfish cakes.


No-Fuss Butternut Squash Soup

I am not a fan of peeling butternut squash but I do like the vegetable. Very happy to have found it pureed and frozen at my local market. It is a perfect time saver for soup.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4-12 oz packages frozen pureed butternut squash
32 oz container vegetable broth
4 oz container unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Herbs for garnish, such as sage

Directions

Put all the ingredients in a Dutch Oven except the cream. Bring to a boil, stir well, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with fresh herbs.

Crab Stuffed Shrimp

2 servings

Ingredients

8 large shrimp (16-20 per pound)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 garlic, minced
2 green onions (scallions) finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup fresh crab meat
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and devein the shrimp. Butterfly the shrimp by making a slit along the back side, taking care not to slice all the way through the body. Coat a baking dish with nonstick spray and arrange the shrimp in a single layer.
Melt the butter in a microwave dish and set aside.

Combine the garlic, green onion, celery, bell pepper, herbs and seasoning in a mixing bowl. Carefully fold in the mayonnaise and crab meat.

Spoon even portions of the crab mixture over each of the butterflied shrimp. Using your fingers, gently mold each portion of stuffing around the shrimp. Pour the melted butter evenly over the shrimp.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.

Garlicky Sautéed Greens

2-3 servings

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard or other greens
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Heat the garlic and oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

Add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and salt to the empty skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer the greens to a colander to drain.

Return to them to the pan, turn the heat to low and toss with the reserved garlic and oil mixture.when hot, transfer to a serving bowl.


The idea for this tomato-based seafood stew comes from the fisherman from Genoa who immigrated to the US and settled in the Bay area of California. Cioppino was developed in San Francisco by these Italian immigrants who prepared a fish stew with what they had on their fishing boats from their daily catch.

Legend has it that requests were made as the boats came in for the day asking for any seafood to “CHIP IN ” to the pot; add Italian seasoning and hence the name: Cioppino (chip-EEN-o). Most food historians and cookbook authors don’t even try to fix the recipe in time, although all point to San Francisco as the place of origin. Cioppino wasn’t well-known beyond the Bay area (or at least outside of California) until after World War II. John Thorne…describes in the September/October 1996 issue of his newsletter, Simple Cooking, how he came upon a vintage (1921) cookbook that discusses cioppino in detail. That book, Fish Cookery, by Evelyn Spencer of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and John N. Cobb, director of the College of Fisheries at the University of Washington, offers a recipe for cioppino that had appeared three years earlier by H.B. Nidever in California Fish and Game. Thorne believes that it may be one of the first, if not the first, ever published.

In 1925 Nunzio Alioto, an Italian immigrant, set up a stall at #8 Fisherman’s Wharf to sell lunchtime provisions to the Italian laborers. His business grew and by 1932 he had constructed the first building at the corner of Taylor and Jefferson, by combining the fish stand with a seafood bar. After Nunzio passed away unexpectedly, his widow Nonna Rose and her three children took over the stall. In 1938 she installed a kitchen in the original structure and officially opened Alioto’s Restaurant. Their specialty was Cioppino.

Here is my version that I have developed over the years and one that suits my family’s taste.

Italian American Seafood Stew (Cioppino)

Serve with a green salad and some crusty Italian bread for dipping in the delicious sauce.

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups fish stock
2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes in juice, crushed
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 pounds firm, skinless fish fillets (such as red snapper, grouper, swordfish, tuna, mahi-mahi or halibut), cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb shrimp, deveined
1 lb sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup white wine
2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed and soaked to remove the sand

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Sauté 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, fish stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes.

Add the wine to a large deep skillet and bring to a boil. Add the clams, turn the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Remove the clams as they open to a covered bowl. Discard any clams that do not open. Strain the juices in the skillet through a fine mesh colander. Set aside the clams and the strained cooking liquid.

Next add the fish pieces and shrimp to the tomato sauce, pushing them down into the liquid a little. Cover the pot and simmer for 4 minutes. Add the scallops and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the opened clams and strained wine and heat for a minute or two.

Immediately scoop the stew into large bowls, garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with Italian bread.


Serve with a green vegetable or a mixed green salad.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 (6-oz) salmon fillets, skin removed and patted dry with paper towels
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes (seeds removed)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon prepared basil pesto
Thin Spaghetti, cooked

Directions

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Season salmon all over with salt and pepper.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the salmon skin-side up and cook until deeply golden, about 6 minutes.

Turn over and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to low and add the butter. When the butter melts, stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the shallot and cook until tender.

Add the chopped tomato and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes soften.

Stir in the heavy cream, parmesan, and pesto and bring mixture to a simmer.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Return the salmon back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over the fish. Simmer until the salmon is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes more.

Place some cooked spaghetti on each serving plate and place the salmon on top. Pour the sauce in the skillet over the fish and spaghetti.


Italian Style Crab Cakes

I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset Blend which is a combination of basil, oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper, and anise. You can also use dried Italian seasoning.

Ingredients

1 lb fresh lump crabmeat, cleaned and shells removed
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
1 shallot, minced
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Tuscan blend seasoning or salt-free dried Italian seasoning
⅓ cup olive oil mayonnaise
2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought basil pesto
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 thin tomato slices

Lemon Butter Aioli

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove small garlic minced or grated
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Make the aioli
Whisk the melted butter with the ½ cup mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, pinch of cayenne, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and combined, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the crab cakes
In a large bowl, mix together all crab the cake ingredients except the oil and the tomatoes. Using 1/3 cup mixture for each, shape into eight 3-inch patties.

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat until hot. Add patties; cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Drain on paper towels.

To serve place each crab cake on a tomato slice and top each cake with a tablespoon of Lemon Butter Aioli.



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