Cioppino & pasta best of both worlds

Main Dish
4 servings
20 min
70 min
Very Easy


Number of serving: 4
1 2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 clv garlic, minced

2 large shallots, roughly chopped

1 fennel bulb, stalks and fronds trimmed off, cored and slices cross-wise

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stalk celery, cut in 1/4" dice

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh oregano

1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to more taste

salt and pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons tomato paste

3 1 2 cup dry white vermouth

2 bay leaves

3 c clam juice

2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more for baking dish

-1 teaspoon salt for pasta water

1 libra dried pasta shells, big enough to stuff

1 2 red onion, cut into 1/4 dice

4 ounces cured spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4" dice

2 (6.5 ounces) cans of chopped clams, rinsed and drained

1 cup fresh (not toasted) breadcrumbs

2 roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4 dice

1 2 cup roughly chopped italian parsley

1 4 cup fennel leaves, delicate fronds only, chopped

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 libra firm fleshed fish of your choosing cut into 1 chunks

12 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined

12 small clams such as manila, well scrubbed

12 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

14 roughly chopped basil leaves

1 (28 ounces) can of diced tomatoes


  • The Sauce:
    Heat 1/4-cup olive oil in a stockpot set over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots, sweat until softened. Add fennel, carrot and celery; cook an additional 3 minutes. Add thyme and oregano, along with red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste, stirring often. Once the paste cooks down, add 1-cup vermouth, de-glazing the pan. Raise heat to medium-high and continue to cook until the liquid thickens. Add an additional cup of vermouth & continue cooking; until the liquid is reduced by half. Add bay leaves, can of tomatoes with its liquid, 2 cups clam juice and the Worcestershire. Lower heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 30 minutes. Turn off heat and remove herb branches and bay leaves. Using an immersion blender puree the sauce. It should be slightly thick, but smooth and velvety. Bring to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
  • The Shells:
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 2-quart casserole. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the pasta shells. Cook until al dente, about 12 minutes. Stir the shells to prevent them from sticking together. Drain into a colander and rinse with cool water. Set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium-sized sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook a few moments. Add the chorizo and the clams stirring until well coated. Pour in 1/2-cup vermouth and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced and the pan is nearly dry. Season with a little salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the breadcrumbs and clam juice, stirring to combine. Add the tomatoes, 1/4-cup parsley and fennel fronds, mix well. Drizzle a light layer of the sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Working with one shell at a time, spoon 1 to 3 teaspoons of the chorizo mixture (depending on the size of your shells) into each shell setting them into the baking dish as you work. They should be touching, but not tightly packed. Once the dish is filled, drizzle additional sauce over the shells, be generous, but they should not be swimming in the sauce. Bake the shells until the sauce is bubbling and the exposed areas of shell are just beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Set them aside, loosely covered.
  • The Cioppino:
    Add red wine vinegar to the remaining sauce and bring to a simmer. Adjust the consistency of the sauce with water. You want it brothy, but not watery. Use your judgment. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the fish and shrimp to the pot of simmering base. Cover the pot.
  • To Serve:
    Spoon several stuffed shells into each of 4 low soup bowls. In a large skillet with lid, heat the remaining 1-cup of vermouth set over medium heat. Add the clams and mussels. Cover and cook; shaking until the shellfish open, about 5 minutes. Discard unopened shellfish; divide the rest among the soup bowls. Strain the remaining liquid into the cioppino and raise the heat. Once small bubbles begin to appear on the edges of the pot turn the heat off, do not let the cioppino come to a boil. Ladle the cioppino over the shellfish and pasta shells making sure to include a variety of fish and shrimp. Garnish generously with remaining parsley, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm.


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