Thursday, January 9, 2014

Italian Seafood Salad

We have been craving seafood after feasting on lots of meat during the holidays and ending with a gorgeous prime rib for Christmas. This Italian seafood salad is from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa’s latest cookbook Foolproof

Ina uses a splash of Limoncello and lots of fresh lemon juice to bring out the briny flavor of the shellfish. Limoncello is a sweet liqueur from Italy and has a strong lemon flavor, but doesn’t have the sourness or bitterness associated with lemon juice. Limoncello is offered today in more and more restaurants as an after dinner digestive in place of dessert. Along the Amalfi Coast, the Italians serve Limoncello chilled in small ceramic glasses, the glasses themselves chilled as well. We like to keep a bottle in our freezer for that same occasion.  

The recipe calls for fresh calamari, which we love. Try as I might, including searching every seafood market within ten to fifteen miles, we weren’t able to locate any calamari. So we substituted two six-ounce small spiny lobster tails that we frequently we can find on sale in our local market for the calamari. This is a very rich salad and consequently we had some left-overs. The next day we added a large can of canned plum tomatoes and their juice along with a splash of white wine and turned it into a seafood stew. This is an expensive salad, so I suggest you save it for special occasions. 

Italian Seafood Salad
Adapted from Foolproof & The Food Network by Ina Garten – serves 6 to 8

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds (16- to 20-count) shrimp, peeled and deveined 
2 spiny lobster tails, about 6 ounces each, optional
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 pound sea scallops, halved crosswise
1 pound cleaned fresh calamari, sliced crosswise in 1/2-inch-thick rings (or substitute 2 spiny lobster tails, about 6 ounces each as we did above)
2 pounds fresh mussels

1/2 cup good olive oil
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 plum tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed and medium-diced
1/3 cup Limoncello liqueur
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, lightly packed
2 lemons

Fill a large pot with 3 quarts of water and add the Old Bay seasoning and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil, add the shrimp & lobster tails and lower the heat. Simmer the shrimp for 3 minutes, until just firm. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a large bowl and leave the lobster tails in the water and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the lobster a large bowl and let rest until cool enough to remove the meat and cut into cubes. Save the tail for garnish if you wish. Leave 2 cups of the poaching liquid in the pot and discard the rest.

Add the wine to the poaching liquid and bring to a boil. Add the scallops, lower the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes, until just cooked. With the skimmer, transfer the scallops to the bowl with the shrimp. Bring the poaching liquid back to a boil, add the calamari, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until just cooked. Be careful not to overcook any of the seafood or it will be tough. With the skimmer, transfer the calamari to the bowl.

Bring the poaching liquid to a boil again, add the mussels, cover, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, until all the shells have opened, discarding any that don't open. Turn off the heat and set aside until the mussels in the broth are cool enough to handle. Remove all but 12 of the mussels from the shells and add to the bowl. Add the 12 in their shells to the seafood and discard the rest of the shells. Set aside 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid, discarding the rest. Drain the seafood in a colander and put it all back into the bowl.

For the dressing, heat the olive oil in a medium (10-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. (Be careful: Overcooked garlic will be bitter.) Add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat for 2 more minutes. Add the reserved poaching liquid, the limoncello, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Pour the sauce over the seafood and toss gently. Add the fennel and parsley. Cut a lemon in half lengthwise, cut it thinly crosswise, and add it to the salad. Toss gently to combine and cover with plastic wrap. Chill, covered, for at least 3 hours or overnight.

To serve, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the juice of the remaining lemon. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature. Garnish with a lobster tail if desired.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes & Carol's Chatter Food on Friday. 

Have a great weekend everyone.


  1. Gorgeous colors Sam! Looks like a great salad and the seafood makes me think of warmer weather:@)

  2. The salad looks like sunshine in a bowl. Calamari is always plentiful around here. I'm with Lynn on thinking warmer!


  3. Now that looks like Florida, Sam! :)
    Another super photo...the colors are amazing and anything Ina does tastes divine.

  4. Oh! I want that right now and it is only 8:30 AM! That looks delicious. I wish we could get good plump mussels here. I have to order them ahead and travel to a seafood market in Greenville SC to get PEI mussels.

  5. Oh it looks soooo good..
    What a treat and a feast for the eyes..

  6. Fabulous and surely extremely scrumptious! I love the fact that the dressing is made with Limoncello.



  7. I think the splash of limoncello is pure genius Sam. Seafood would be quite welcome as opposed to all the heavy meals of the holidays.

  8. What a delicious dressing for the seafood. Don't we all love Ina's recipes? Our local Dungeness crab is at its peak right now and it would be a delicious addition to this beautiful salad. I don't see calamari very often here either. This is indeed a special occasion treat.

  9. This looks wonderful. Sam. It may be her recipe, but you are the one beautifully preparing and displaying it to perfection. Wish I hd some for lunch!



  10. That looks good. I like the idea to add limoncello. Now I have to find me some fresh calamari ...

  11. What a beauty! I can see the boats bringing in those marvelous sea creatures!

  12. i got that cookbook for Christmas, too, but haven't tried any yet. This would be a great start. Thanks for being the test driver, Sam, although Ina has never steered me wrong. I'm lucky too that my sister made limoncello this year. Yep, think I have everything!

  13. This looks delicious, but we can always count on Ina. I have visions of your neighbors trying to get a dinner invitation to your house.

    While I seldom drink I am accumulating a collection of liquor - seems like I am getting my booze in my food. :) I have been wanting to try the limocello for a while now.

  14. What a glorious seafood salad! Those giant scallops are so succulent and wonderful. I am so intrigued with the dressing prepared with Limoncello.

  15. Mmmmmm my mouth is watering looking at your gorgeous photos. Have a good day. Diane

  16. So colorful, so healthy. It is a beautiful salad to behold. I know what you mean about wanting to eat light after the holiday indulgences. David made a clam chowder for lunch today and we are trying to eat lighter suppers.

  17. Wow, does THAT look good, Sam!! I have the same bowl, too. I can't wait to try making this...perhaps for my upcoming birthday. I used to do a seafood alfredo pasta dish that was also a real treat but this recipe sounds even better. We've had Limoncello in Capri while touring Italy & even brought some home. Sadly it is all gone, so I'll have to get some more before I made this dish.
    Thanks for telling us about it. I love anything Ina does & please tell Meakin his photos are gorgeous...very tantalizing!!!

  18. Sam, That is a great looking seafood salad. My wife would really love it...but it's too much trouble for us to find the ingredients, much less prepare it... We'll have to find it out somewhere...probably on our next trip to Florida. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  19. I wish I could reach into my screen and grab several big bites! I love your substitution of the spiny-tail lobster for the calamari. I agree with the others on thinking this looks like a wonderful bowl of warm, Florida sunshine.

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  21. That is one terrific salad Sam

  22. So perfect! delicious and refreshing after all that Holiday fare!
    Mary x

  23. It's really funny how I have been craving seafood this winter, too. This salad is perfect, cool, refreshing and the texture of seafood is just so satisfying, maybe more so than meat. The splash of limoncello intrigues me, but the flavors are wonderful!

  24. Sam, you've blown me away with this post! My mouth is watering! I love everything about his salad and I want some right now! Beautiful photos and great post!

    Bill @

  25. What a beautiful salad! It is so tantalizing, and I bet the Limoncello adds a bright accent. Brava!

  26. What a fun and delicious looking meal Sam, definitely suitable for a special occasion or to make any occasion special :)

  27. Hi Sam,
    Your Italian Seafood Salad is beautiful, just beautiful!! A wonderful recipe and a fabulous presentation for all of us to sit down and enjoy.

    Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend.
    Miz Helen

  28. We're thinking along the same lines this week, I just added Limoncello to a roast chicken! Lovely recipe!

  29. What a glorious salad! I'm going to have to look in to Limoncello as an ingredient.

  30. I have a bottle of Limencello in the freezer and I was wondering what I was going to do with it. What a wonderful salad Sam. Just what the Dr. ordered. Pinned.

  31. Dear Sam, One of my favorite meals that brings back lovely memories of my childhood. This is something my mom used to make.
    Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  32. Wow! Look at the colors and the textures in that beautiful Italian seafood salad. Beautiful. I tried my hand this season making limoncello with the bounty from my Meyer lemon tree. Fingers crossed that it turns out okay. The concoction is resting until the end of the month.


  33. I pinned this dish. I have some limoncello I can't wait to try it out on this dish. Thanks as always for being part of foodie friday.

  34. This looks really divine. I don't cook seafood often because my family doesn't care for it, but maybe I'll save it and share with my parents


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