Serves 6 to 8
This dish truly speaks of Italy. Every region of the country that is on the sea has some version of this seafood salad. It’s one of those recipes you can take in any direction you like. You can use whatever seafood is available—scungilli (sea conch), crabmeat, scallops, or any firm fish fillets. You can use lemon juice in place of part or all of the vinegar, and dress the salad up with capers, black olives, roasted peppers, or diced tomatoes, as you see fit. However you make it, it’s best prepared about half an hour before serving, to give the flavors a chance to develop. You can refrigerate the salad, but not for too long. And be sure to bring it to room temperature and check the seasonings before you serve it. When I am having family over, I know this will be a favorite, served in a large bowl on the table—everyone digs in.
- COURT BOUILLON
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 pound small calamari (bodies 4 to 6 inches long), cleaned, bodies cut into ½-inch rings, tentacles reserved
- 1½ pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary
- 4 inner stalks celery with leaves, thinly sliced (about 1½ cups)
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Add the shrimp to the court bouillon, and cook until just opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes. Fish the shrimp out with a spider, and spread them on a baking sheet. (Don’t worry if they aren’t completely drained—you’ll use some of the liquid to finish the salad.)
Add the calamari to the court bouillon, and poach just until they are firm and tender, about 3 minutes. Fish out the calamari, and add them to the shrimp.
Return the court bouillon to a boil. Stir in the mussels, cover the pot, and cook until the shells open and the mussels are firm but not tough, about 4 minutes. Remove with a spider, discard any that haven’t opened, and add to the other poached seafood. When the mussels are cool enough, pluck the meat from the shells directly into a large serving bowl.
To make the salad, transfer the cooled shrimp and calamari to the bowl with the mussels, shaking off peppercorns as you do. Add the celery, and garlic; then pour in the olive oil and vinegar. Toss until mixed, drizzling in some of the reserved cooking liquid to taste.
Season the salad with the salt and pepper flakes. It should be very moist and glisten with dressing. If not, add a dash of olive oil, vinegar, and a little more of the cooking liquid. Let the salad stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice. Check the seasoning, toss in the parsley and mix well just before serving.