If we are dining out and Cioppino happens to be on the menu, then there is a very good chance that’s exactly what my husband will order. I realize Cioppino sounds like something rather complex, but it’s really just a fancy-sounding name for an easy seafood stew. Although there is nothing super complicated about making Cioppino the only way to recreate the full-bodied restaurant-quality deliciousness at home is to let the broth slow cook. For a long time.
The problem is, I do not have a long time to stand around in my kitchen for the broth to do its thing. I need an easy seafood stew that is not only simple to prepare but also requires minimal hands-on time.
Hello slow cooker!
Easy Seafood Stew Without the Pot-Watching
In all honesty, I did not come up with the idea to cook my stew in a slow cooker for the sake of flavor; I did so because I wanted to save time. I was fully prepared to lose a bit of flavor if I could save myself some time in the kitchen (please tell me others can relate?)
But it turns out, the slow cooker actually intensified the flavors much better than I could have dreamed. Without a doubt though, the secret to success with making a tasty seafood stew in a slow cooker is that you absolutely must sauté the vegetables first. There’s no way around skipping this step. Throwing all of the ingredients in the slow cooker all at once would definitely be the easiest easy seafood stew recipe, but it won’t be the tastiest.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their slow cooker recipes is thinking they can just throw all of the ingredients into the pot and that be that. But trust me, if you take just 10 or 12 extra minutes to follow step 1 in the directions below and sauté the vegetables first, the end result will be a truly incredible, rich tasting restaurant-quality stew. I have a number of different healthy dinner recipes that I make with my slow cooker, but I don’t think there is a single one that can be made by just tossing everything into the pot.
Adding a Southwest Touch….
Classic Cioppino is definitely an Italian style dish. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I love Italian food. However, my husband is particularly fond of Mexican and southwestern flavored dishes and so I wanted to give my easy seafood stew recipe a southwest spin. By nixing the traditional Italian ingredients such as wine, basil and oregano and substituting with a few south of the border elements such as beer, lime, chipotle peppers and cumin. I was able to get a whole new flavor profile with my seafood dish.
Make it a Complete Meal
To make a complete meal I like to serve the seafood stew with sides of sautéed kale, black beans and my whole grain cornbread.
As for what to drink, the stew does have beer as an ingredient but I’m not really a beer drinker, so I stick to a crisp white wine.Print
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Spanish onion, chopped
- 2 bell peppers (preferably red and yellow), chopped
- 5 carrots, chopped
- 3 teaspoons cumin
- Unrefined sea salt, to taste
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped and seeds removed
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces) organic fire roasted diced tomatoes (such as Muir Glen), with juices
- ½ cup good quality beer (don’t use light beer)
- Juice from 1 whole lime
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 2 cups organic vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup clam broth (available in the canned seafood section of your supermarket)
- ½ pound squid tubes (sliced into ½ inch rings) and tentacles
- 1 pound large wild shrimp, peeled and deveined (Note: save the shrimp shells)
- 2 pounds mussels
- ¾ pounds white fish (such as sea bass, halibut or snapper), cut into bite sized pieces, rinsed and patted dry
- ½ pound lobster, shell removed (Note: save the lobster shell)
- 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
- Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, bell peppers and carrots; sauté for 5 or 6 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Add the cumin and season with salt to taste. Add the chipotle pepper, and diced tomatoes; simmer for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the vegetable broth to a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Mix in the beer, lime juice, honey, vegetable broth and clam juice. Add the lobster and shrimp shells only (but do not add the actual seafood just yet.) Turn heat to high and cook for 3 to 3 ½ hours.
- After the broth has cooked for at least 3 hours, rinse your seafood with cool water and pat super dry with paper towels. Season seafood with salt. Add the seafood to the slow cooker and mix well so the seafood is covered with the broth. Cook on high for approximately 20 minutes, or until all seafood is cooked through and mussels have opened (keep your eye on your stew as cooking time can vary depending on the exact amount of seafood used.) When done, remove the lid and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes in order to give the flavors time to deepen. Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top and serve warm.
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