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Seaside Salad

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)


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Introduction

I call this Seaside Salad simply because it reminds me of all the wonderful little dishes of marinated antipasti I have enjoyed over the years in towns up and down the Adriatic and Mediterranean coasts. These appetizers always feature the freshest local catch — tender tiny cockles and succulent baby calamari. Use the freshest seafood you can find to make the most of this simple yet delectable salad.

Ingredients

  1. 2 doz. manila or littleneck clams, thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed
  2. 2 doz. mussels, thoroughly scrubbed, debearded if necessary, and rinsed
  3. 1 lb. cleaned calamari, both sacs and tentacles, sacs cut into ½-inch-wide rings and tentacle crowns cut in half lengthwise to yield bite-sized pieces
  4. 1 lb. medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  5. Juice of 1 lemon
  6. 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  7. 1 clove garlic, pressed
  8. ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  9. Generous pinch red pepper flakes
  10. 1 large or 2 small fresh bay leaves

Steps

  1. Put the clams in a dry skillet or sauté pan, cover, and place the pan over medium-high heat. Cook until all of the clams have opened, 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any that have not opened within 10 minutes. Remove the clams from their shells and place them in a bowl large enough to fit all of the shellfish. Drain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a damp paper towel into a bowl. Reserve the liquid.
  2. Wipe the skillet clean and put the mussels in it. Cover and place the pan over medium-high heat and cook until all of the mussels have opened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any that have not opened within 10 minutes. Remove the mussels from their shells and add them to the bowl with the clams. Drain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a damp paper towel into the same bowl containing the clam juice. Reserve.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the calamari and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are opaque but still very tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the calamari to the bowl containing the clams and mussels but keep the pot on the heat.
  4. Carefully set a steaming basket into the pot of water in which you boiled the calamari. The bottom of the steaming basket should be just above the water line, so carefully ladle out some water if necessary.
  5. Place the shrimp in the steaming basket and cover the pot. Steam the shrimp for 5 minutes or until they are just cooked through. They should be pink and opaque but still tender and not at all stiff. Transfer the shrimp to the bowl with the other shellfish.
  6. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, reserved liquid from the clams and mussels, salt, garlic, parsley, and red pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour the dressing over the shellfish and toss well to combine. Tuck the bay leaf or leaves in among the shellfish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  7. To serve, divide the salad between 8 small plates. Spoon the dressing from the bowl over the salad. Serve cold.

Note

This salad is best after it has marinated for at least 4 hours. You can make it a day ahead or early on the day that you plan to serve it.