All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood

Steamed clams and mussels casserole

The other day, I went to Costco for shellfish – I needed it for a recipe. But they only sell large bags of mussels and clams, as you know. They looked so good though, that I couldn’t resist. So I had more than plenty for what I needed it originally for, and a new dilemma what to do with the rest.

Simple solution – I just steamed them! It took just a few minutes and we had a wonderful, light a super tasty dinner for hot summer night! (Light it was meant to be, but we stuffed ourselves anyway!) If you are on low carb diet, you have got to skip a day. Crusty bread to dip into this delicious broth, is a must! Simple and fast dinner recipe  –  I don’t think you can go wrong with a fresh shellfish!

Steamed clams and mussels casserole

about 2 dozen of both clams and mussels (or how much do you need for your family)
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped leek
2 cloves of garlic
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1-2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup of white wine
freshly chopped parsley
olive oil

Scrub clams or mussels well under running water; pull any beards off mussels. Discard open shellfish that don’t close when tapped. In the meantime heat a little bit of olive oil in a large pan (so all the shellfish would fit in and could be covered). Saute chopped bacon, onion, garlic and leeks for a few minutes – until soft. Add chicken broth and bring to boil.

Add shellfish to boiling broth and sprinkle with wine. Cover and cook until shells pop open, about five minutes. Spoon into plates, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately. You can serve wedges of lemon on the side, if you desire (but we didn’t need them).

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood

Shrimp Criolli

Vera's Shrimp CriolliI had one of those days, craving something light, spicy and ‘seafooddy’. And, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. So I examined my freezer, found a bag of frozen extra large shrimps and immediately thought of Shrimp Scampi.

But I didn’t really want to get carbs involved so much either. And the Shrimp Scampi without spaghetti, for some reason, weren’t as appealing to me.Why not try something completely new?

So I looked up some recipes for Creole style dishes on line. I had some idea what was that cuisine, popular in southern part of the country, about – but wasn’t completely sure what kind of ingredients it involves. I found several different ones, and liked the simplicity of the recipes. That’s what I was looking for!

As usual, I put my own twist on it and made something I called Shrimp Criolli (inspired by Creole and Spanish cuisine combined). Let me tell you, I already made it several times, that’s how delicious it came out! My mouth is watering again, just writing about it!

Shrimp Criolli

1 pound of large raw shrimp
1 thinly sliced leek
8 campari tomatoes
Salt and pepper
pinch of saffron threads
½ cup white wine
½ tsp of red flakes (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 pc of palm hearts (optional)
1 tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Cut tomatoes in half, line them cut side up in a small baking dish, season with salt and freshly grated pepper, chopped garlic and rosemary and sprinkle generously with olive oil. Let bake in oven at 375F for 20 minutes.

The aromas of tomatoes with the garlic and rosemary, was incredible as soon as it warmed up a little. That’s the base of this dish.In the meantime clean your shrimp, peel and de-vain if needed. In the large skillet heat remaining olive oil and tablespoon of butter, add cleaned and sliced leeks and cook on medium low heat until caramelized and soft. Add baked tomatoes straight from the baking dish with all its juices, add red flakes or hot pepper and few threats of saffron. Mix together.

The tomatoes will easily brake down and release all the caramelized juices we achieved by baking it, with beautiful aromas of garlic and rosemary. Add white wine and let it cook out a little. Introduce raw shrimp to the party, so it’s covered in sauce. Cover the skillet and let cook on medium – low heat until the shrimp turns pink – about 5-10 minutes. Check it out frequently so the shrimp doesn’t overcook.

Remove palm hearts from the jar, and wash them in colander under running water to remove salty solution they were preserved in. Drain and cut into similar pieces (rings) and add it to the sauce at the end. At that point, turn the heat off and let the palm hearts just warm up in the sauce. You don’t want your shrimp to turn into a rubber.

If you don’t have palm of hearts (I bought mine in Costco), honestly, it is not really contributing to a particular flavor profile of this dish. I liked it because it added an additional crunchiness. So feel free to skip it if you can’t find it in the store.

I serve this dish as an appetizer (in martini glasses or in little bread rolls) or it can be served as a main dish, perhaps with gnocchi. If you’re done watching carbs, you can serve this delicious dish over pasta, rice or with crusted bread for dipping.

Wine pairing suggestion:

I had this dish with a bottle of Henri Bourgeois ‘Petit Bourgeois’ Sauvignon Blanc – a beautiful, crisp and refreshing white wine that I hadn’t have for quite some time. (look for the most recent vintage!) It was as good as always and complimented the dish perfectly.
I would see Argentinian Torrontes to pair great with this or perhaps any Spanish whites, since I put Spanish twist on it! I can see my favorite Muga Blanco, Muga Rose, or any crisp whites from Rueda – like Las Brisas or Oro de Castilla to do just great. Again, if you want to try any of these wines, please look for the most recent vintage possible.

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Tilapia loin with a spicy sweet potato hash

Tilapia loin with a spicy sweet potato hash


4 tilapia loins – I really like the individually frozen loins from Costco, just a perfect size
1 table spoon of your favorite seafood seasoning
olive oil
1 table spoon of butter

For a simple pesto:
1 cup of chopped basil and parsley
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
sprinkle of champagne vinegar
salt and pepper

For a sweet potato hash:
1 – 2 large sweet potatoes
Half of medium sized red onion
1 chorizo
1 leek (white parts and light green parts only)
½ cup dry white wine
Hot salt or salt and tiny bit of cayenne pepper
Fresh crushed pepper
1 table spoon of ketchup

Peel sweet potato and chop it into a petite cubes. Finely chop onion and leek into a little slices. Chop cured chorizo into small cubes.

In the large skillet sauté onions on a little bit of olive oil on medium heat. Add chopped potato and sprinkle with hot salt and fresh crushed black pepper. Add chopped leek and cook, stirring often. Cook through, until the potatoes are starting to get a little tender. Add chorizo chopped into a little pieces and pour wine over it. Cover and keep cooking until potatoes are tender. Add more white wine, if desire. Taste the potatoes – if tender, finish the dish with a little bit of sweet ketchup. Mix well together.

Place parsley and garlic in a food processor and process for a few seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Start adding olive oil while the processor works. If needed, add more olive oil than in recipe, until you get a desired thickness. Add a few drops of champagne vinegar and mix together.

In the meantime, heat olive oil and butter in another pan. Sprinkle your fish loins lightly with spices and cook just few minutes on each side, until done. On your plates, plate the sweet potato hash first, top it with tilapia loin and sprinkle with pesto. I hope you are going to love it as much as I did! Bon Apetite!

Wine pairing suggestion:
I have paired this dish with lovely Montepulciano D’Abruzzo from Fattoria La Valentina. You can also pick your favorite Pinot Noir or any other, light-medium body red wine (preferably not too much tannins). Who said you can’t drink red wine with the white fish?

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood, Salads

Seafood Party Salad

Seafood Party Salad
1 bag of frozen calamari, thawed (or about one pound of fresh)
1/2 pound of crab/lobster meat
1 pound of medium shrimp (cooked)
half of the bulb of fresh sweet anise (optional)
red peppers in oil (about 1 piece, just to add color)
handful of olives (your choice)
3 sticks of celery
cup of each fresh parsley and basil, chopped
4 tablespoons of white champagne vinegar
1/2 cup of olive oil (more if desired, based on the weight of seafood used)
2 cloves of garlic
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper

Clean calamari and chop into small pieces, tails to short pieces, bodies to rings. In a large pan bring water to boil, add salt and throw in calamari for just a 30-45 seconds – cooks al dente. Fish them out and throw in ice bath to chill instantly. This way they stay nice a crisp, instead of overcooked chewy style.

In the salad bowl mix chopped celery, chopped crab/lobster meat, cooked shrimp, finely chopped anise (or use mandolin to get thin slices), chilled pieces of calamari rings and tentacles, chopped red peppers, celery sticks cut into thin rings and sliced olives.

In a food processor mix garlic, parsley and basil leaves. Pulse and start adding olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar while processor is running. Season with salt and pepper if desired. You can taste and sweeten a slightly, if desired. Mix with the salad, toss everything together and serve chilled.

Wine pairing suggestion:
To match this delicious seafood salad, I picked delicious Italian white wine from Veneto, made by Inama family – Soave Classico “Foscarino”. The complexity of this wine totally blended with the salad and together created a symphony of lovely flavors….

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood, Pasta

Angel hair pasta with spicy seafood

Angel hair pasta with spicy seafood99% of time when we feel like pasta in our household, spaghetti or similarly shaped pasta wins. But this simple and tasty recipe goes well with any other kind of pasta you personally prefer.

Angel hair pasta with spicy seafood

1/2 pound Bay scallops, cleaned
4 – 6 extra large shrimp, peeled, deveeined and chopped into chunks similar to the size of scallops
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium green zucchini (thinly sliced on mandolin into long strips)
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon Pelago Spicy Seafood seasoning
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon olive oil

Bring water in a large pot into boil, add tablespoon of salt and cook your pasta “al-dente”. Drain, sprinkle a little bit of olive oil into cooked pasta so it wouldn’t stick, and mix. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water for your sauce.

In the meantime, heat up the butter until melted in deeper pan, add olive oil and slices of zucchini. Sprinkle with a little bit of the seasoning mix and saute, stirring regularly, on medium hot until soft (about 2-3 min.). Take cooked strips of zucchini out of the pan with fine mesh spoon and set aside.

Add all the seafood to the hot oil and butter, and sprinkle with seasoning. Add pasta water, mix together and quickly saute, stirring it regularly, until shrimp is pink on all sizes (about a minute). Add chopped garlic and cooked zucchini strips. Combine and pour over cooked pasta.
Buon Appetito!

Wine pairing suggestion:
With this meal I opened a new vintage of Alta Vista Torrontes from Argentina and it was delicious together. Some of you, Vera Wine Club’s members may remember this wine from our Argentinian Luncheon at Fleming’s – few years ago. It was quite a success. If you didn’t taste it yet, you got to try a bottle.