This recipe is a labor of love. But the boon is everything can be prepped ahead of time, which makes serving a breeze. Make sure you have a large enough vessel to fit everything at the end. It’s essential to toss it all together in the same bowl prior to serving to ensure the seasoning is even and bright.
Recipe Adapted from Daniel Gritzer/Serious Eats
- ¾ pound sea scallops, medium dice
- 2 cups fresh lemon juice, divided
- ½ onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 fennel ends, washed and roughly sliced (use scraps from fennel used for salad)
- 1 cup celery scrap, washed and roughly sliced (use from celery in salad)
- 1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
- 2 pounds shrimp, 26-30 count, peeled and deveined
- 4 pounds mussels, debearded and washed well
- 2t coriander seed
- 5 peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ lemon, striped with a peeler
- 2 pounds squid, cleaned, bodies sliced, tentacles halved
- Kosher salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 bulbs fennel, shaved thinly on a mandolin or with a sharp knife (save scraps for seafood poach, see above)
- 8 pieces celery, peeled and cut on a sharp bias (save scraps for seafood poach, see above)
- 1 bunch parsley, minced
- ¼ C chervil, minced
- ¼ C chives, minced
- ¼ C dill, minced
- 2T celery leaves, minced
- 3t coriander seed, toasted and crushed
- 2t freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 pinches cayenne pepper
- ½ C lemon juice
- ¼ C parsley
- 1 C extra-virgin olive oil
In a non-reactive stainless-steel bowl, toss the scallops with a big pinch of salt and cover with lemon juice (roughly 1 cup). Marinate for 1 hour, then strain the scallops and set aside in the fridge.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an 8-quart rondeau. Sweat the onion, garlic, fennel and celery scarps over medium-low heat until softened, no color. Add the mussels, a large pinch of salt and the wine. Shake the pan vigorously and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Steam the mussels until they open, 4-6 minutes, over medium-high heat. Once opened, scoop out the mussels and transfer to a sheet tray to cool completely. Discard any mussels that don’t open.
Add 2 quarts of cold water to the mussel steaming liquid along with 3 big pinches of salt, coriander, bay leaves, black peppercorns and lemon peel. Add the squid to the poaching liquid and cook to tender, taking care not to let the water heat past a gentle simmer (170 degrees). It should take around 5 minutes, depending on the temperature of your cooking liquid. It’s cooked once it’s opaque and slightly springy to the touch. Once cooked, scoop the squid out, toss with 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and cool on a sheet tray.
Add another 2 big pinches of salt to the poaching liquid. Bring it up to a simmer, add the shrimp and turn off the heat. Let the shrimp cook gently until pink, 3-4 minutes. Scoop out the shrimp, toss with 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice and let cool.
Make the vinaigrette: Put everything minus the olive oil in a bowl and whisk well. Slowly stream in the oil and whisk. Set aside.
Once all the seafood is cool, pick the meat out of all but 15 mussels. Toss the mussels with the rest of the seafood, half the vinaigrette, and a couple large pinches of salt. At this point, the salad can rest overnight in the fridge.
When ready to assemble the salad, toss the dressed seafood with the sliced vegetables and minced herbs (to peel celery, use a peeler to peel the ribs off the outer surface of the celery – this makes eating the celery much more pleasant). Taste and adjust the seasoning with more vinaigrette and/or salt. Serve chilled with extra vinaigrette on the side.
I learned how to make this salad while working as a cook in Rome. It showcases the best of winter’s bounty: Citrus. You can easily add some thinly sliced skirt steak or poached chicken breast. It would also be at home as a side to braised chicken thighs or seared steak. I also like to fold in some spicy arugula with the sliced fennel.
- 1 blood orange, thinly sliced
- 1 grapefruit, thinly sliced
- 1 navel orange, thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced on the mandoline
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1/4 C pitted Castelvetrano olives, torn
- 2T parsley leaves
- 2T fennel fronds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Arrange the sliced citrus in an attractive shingled pattern. Sprinkle with salt and olive oil
In a small bowl, thinly slice the fennel bulb using a mandolin. Sprinkle with salt. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Arrange the fennel over the citrus in a bountiful way. Sprinkle herbs and torn olives over the citrus and fennel. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and serve.
People tell me all the time how they’d love to cook but … And they fill in the blank with excuses about not having the time, the energy, or the wherewithal. I always respond with some variation of “But it’s so easy!”
I don’t mean to sound patronizing. I realize my response may be off-putting coming from a professional cook. Of course it’s easy for me — I do it every day. For someone who avoids cooking the way I avoid doing my taxes — and I really avoid doing my taxes — that response probably doesn’t ring true.
I have this quote from Julia Child on the back of my business cards: “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” I truly believe that good cooking at its core is a simple affair.
Simple doesn’t always mean easy and rejuvenating. Anyone who’s ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner knows how tiring it can be, and yet it’s worthwhile. I’m never sorry about making the decision to cook rather than ordering a pizza, although there’s always a time and place for pizza.
One of the best ways to incorporate more cooking into your life is to learn three or four skills well enough that you don’t need a rely on a recipe to make them. My friend Mary is a doctor and she’s really good at saving lives, but she’s not about to star on Top Chef. That said, she can make delicious black bean burgers, pasta salad, and peanut butter chicken salad from memory because they’re recipes she grew up eating.
Making vinaigrette is a great example of a simple skill that, once mastered, will open up a new world of opportunities and ideas of what to serve for dinner. Plus it doesn’t require you to turn on the stove.
The general rule of thumb is one part vinegar to three parts oil. That could mean one tablespoon white wine vinegar with three tablespoons of olive oil shaken up and poured over lettuce. Or you could get more creative using different acids, different fats (buttermilk!), adding zests and other flavoring agents like soy sauce, miso, mustards, herbs or different spices. The possibilities are endless, and they all build off that basic ratio.
Keep in mind that vinaigrette doesn’t have to be limited to dressing salads. I like to cook farro in salted warm and season the warm grain with lemony vinaigrette before adding a bunch of cooked veggies. Fry an egg and pour a tall glass of Chablis and you have yourself a lovely little dinner.
If you like things more acidic, add more vinegar. As you continue tasting and practicing, you’ll develop an intuitive sense that will tell you what to add in order for it to taste balanced. In the meantime, happy cooking.
Makes about 1 cup
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar (I like Volpaia)
- 3/4 cup organic olive oil (Lucini and Seggiano are both readily available in most grocery stores)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Salt and pepper
Macerate (a fancy word meaning soak) the shallot in the vinegar with pinch of salt for five minutes. This smoothes out the harshness of the raw onion flavor.
Add the honey and dijon. Pour the oil over the vinegar mixture and shake up the jar. Alternatively, whisk the oil into the vinegar mixture in a slow, steady stream. Add a couple cracks of black pepper and a couple pinches of salt. Taste and adjust the acidity, oil, and salt to your taste.