Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ina Garten's Italian Seafood Salad

Ina's Italian Seafood Salad minus the Mussel shells....
and with them served on a bed of lettuce
It’s houseguest season and that means food. Lots of it.  By my count, between Friday and Sunday, there are total of 6 meals to offer: 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches.  If that all seems overwhelming, don’t kill me for saying it doesn’t have to be.   The more you get done before the guests arrive, the easier your weekend will be.  This dish could not be a better example.  You make the whole thing in all of an hour in the morning, stick it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and you’ve got a superb dinner or lunch whenever you want it.

Except for the Shrimp, everything else
is from the Hamptons.
Out here in the Hamptons, seafood is the perfect locavore ingredient to serve.  The waters around here team with the Squid, Mussels and Scallops the recipe calls for.   Granted, shrimp are few and far between in these waters, likely to have been brought up here from the Gulf Coast, but they’re the exception. Our local Squid in particular is rated as a “Best Choice” on the Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch (  Mussels can be found clinging to every dock in the region.  And Sea Scallops come right out of the bay not 5 miles from our house, although Hurricane Sandy put a dent in the crop that we still recovering from.  Finally, what else says “Welcome to Long Island” more than a seafood entrée featuring the local catch plus one…unless, of course, it’s a potato. 
Ina Garten is no stranger to this blog.  We love the simplicity of everything she makes and this is no exception.  From her latest cookbook “Foolproof” (Clarkson Potter 2012), it’s her take on an Italian restaurant stand-by.  But it’s a complete original full of lemon-y sauce magnified by the addition of Limoncello liqueur to give it even more lemon-y punch.  The seafood in this dish cooks in no time.  This short cooking time is essential to maintain its delicacy, otherwise you will find yourself with rubbery shrimp and tough squid. The best thing to do is to have absolutely everything lined up and ready to go before you start.  And that also applies to the sauce.  This fragrant mix of garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes is full of diced tomatoes, lemon zest and juice. The addition of a splash of the cooking liquid boosts the seafood flavor even higher.  All the ingredients go into a skillet in short order so have them lined up and ready to go too.  The last ingredient into the mix is the thinly sliced fennel which adds a licorice crunch to the salad.  We served the dish for dinner with only one accompaniment: French bread dripping in garlic butter and I do mean dripping.  It was the perfect counterpoint to the lemon-y salad.
Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Ina Garten’s Italian Seafood Salad
Serves 6 to 8. Takes 1 hour to make then another 3 in the fridge.

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds (16- to 20-count) peeled and deveined shrimp
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 pound sea scallops, halved crosswise
1 pound cleaned fresh calamari, sliced crosswise in 1/2-inch-thick rings
2 pounds fresh mussels
1/2 cup good olive oil
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 plum tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed and medium-diced
1/3 cup limoncello liqueur
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, lightly packed
2 lemons
Fill a large pot with 3 quarts of water and add the Old Bay seasoning and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil, add the shrimp, lower the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes, until just firm. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a large bowl. Leave 2 cups of the poaching liquid in the pot and discard the rest.

Add the wine to the poaching liquid and bring to a boil. Add the scallops, lower the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes, until just cooked. With the skimmer, transfer the scallops to the bowl with the shrimp. Bring the poaching liquid back to a boil, add the calamari, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until just cooked. Be careful not to overcook any of the seafood or it will be tough! With the skimmer, transfer the calamari to the bowl.

Bring the poaching liquid to a boil again, add the mussels, cover, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, until all the shells have opened, discarding any that don't open. Turn off the heat and set aside until the mussels in the broth are cool enough to handle. Remove the mussels from the shells and add to the bowl. Add 12 of the shells to the seafood and discard the rest. Set aside 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid, discarding the rest. Drain the seafood in a colander and put it all back into the bowl.
For the dressing, heat the olive oil in a medium (10-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. (Be careful: Overcooked garlic will be bitter.) Add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat for 2 more minutes. 

Add the reserved poaching liquid, the limoncello, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Pour the sauce over the seafood and toss gently. Add the fennel and parsley. Cut a lemon in half lengthwise, cut it thinly crosswise, and add it to the salad. Toss gently to combine and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

To serve, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the juice of the remaining lemon. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.


  1. Yummmm, I've got the shrimp down here...will look for the rest! I LOVE her. I hope you are doing well!

    1. Delighted you like the recipe. You could do it with any number of fish as well but I think the mussels and the shrimp are essential. Let us know what you did use when you do make it. All best, Monte