Thursday, January 16, 2014

Creamy Cioppino Pasta

So my birthday was this week.  Am I the only one that makes myself dinner on my birthday?  I do this every year.  I like to make something that I like.  Something that is my favorite.  Not my kid’s or my husband’s….Mine.  Something that maybe they wouldn’t normally eat.  But I don’t clean up.  I’m not crazy.

This year, I decided to make pasta.  Why?  I love pasta.  I love everything about it.  It’s such delicious carb-y goodness.  I also knew I wanted seafood.  And not fish, but shellfish too.  So….I resurrected a recipe that I haven’t made in several years.  I am so happy that I did. 

I won’t keep you in the dark any longer.  I am going to give you my recipe for Creamy Cioppino Pasta.  Cioppino is a basically a fish stew.  It originated, supposedly, in San Francisco, which is near where I am from.  I like Cioppino as a stew, but adding pasta and cream takes it to a whole other level. It is pure decadent deliciousness.  And since this is me we are talking about….my version is pretty easy.

I start by sautéing an onion with some garlic, salt and cayenne pepper.  Cioppino typically is a bit spicy.  I am a wuss with spice, so I go easy on it.  You can always add more.

Once the onion has softened, I add in white wine.  Again, the wine is a prime component of Cioppino.  I let the wine reduce for a bit, and then I add a jar of marinara sauce.  Yep, that’s my shortcut.  Marinara is usually tomatoes, garlic, onions and spices that have simmered together for a long time.  If someone has already done that for me and put it in a jar…you bet I’ll use it. 

I let the sauce simmer for about ten minutes, and then I add my mussels.  If you haven’t cleaned mussels before, let me break it down for you.  First off, throw out any open ones.  They are dead and no good.  Soak the mussels in cold water to remove any sand or other nasty stuff.  Remove them from the cold water and give them a good scrub.  If they have a “beard” on the front, pull that off by pulling towards the hinged side of the mussel.  Easy stuff.  Don’t be intimidated by mussels.

The mussels cook in the sauce, with the lid on, for five minutes.  Then I add my fish, scallops, shrimp and crab.  I use canned crab because I don’t want to deal with a full crab carcass.  Yes, I know they are all over the stores right now, but that’s more work when I want to do.  This cooks for another five minutes, lid on. 

Finally, I stir in my cream and the sauce is done.  Quick note, if any mussels didn’t open, toss ‘em.  I serve my sauce over papparadelle pasta, which is big thick ribbons of pasta.  I also sprinkle basil over the top.  Make sure you have a lot of good bread ready for dipping in the sauce!

This pasta is rich, creamy and so amazing.  The seafood cooked in the marinara and wine can’t be beat.  This is the epitome of a special meal.  Do you have a birthday coming up?  Make this.

Creamy Cioppino Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup white wine

23 ounces marinara sauce

½ pound mussels, cleaned

½ pound scallops

1/3 pound raw shrimp, deveined & shell on

½ pound cod, chopped into bite sized pieces

6 ounce can lump crab meat

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup basil, chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, salt and cayenne.  Sauté over medium heat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Add wine.  Cook until reduced, about 3 minutes.  Add marinara.  Continue cooking, with lid on, over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add cleaned mussels and continue cooking, with lid on for 5 minutes.  Add scallops, shrimp, fish and crab meat and cook an additional 5 minutes with the lid on. 

Stir in heavy cream and heat through.

Serve over pasta and top with basil.

Serves 4-6





  1. Courtney, Just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed your Reno Gazette-Journal articles. Now that I've found your marvelous blog, I'll be checking your updates often! Thanks for all you do.

  2. What a nice recipe for you to do on your birthday. I think I was meant to come across your recipe. I was looking for a seafood dish that was a mix of Cioppino but with creaminess of Boston chowder (heavy cream). Then I ad your story and realized we have the same birthday month, maybe even the same week. (Capricorn here). I thought wow how coincidental. Plus I live near SF as well. Anyways can't wait to try your recipe.