Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy and is officially referred to as Regione Siciliana. It is one of the most important regions of Europe simply because it has experienced every single human civilization that has populated Europe- Mediterranean. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Ostrogoths, Normans, Arabs, Catalans, Spaniards, French, you name them.
The culinary impact of all these “visitors” is reflected in the merger of foreign cooking techniques and ingredients with the Sicilian bounty of fresh seafood. This seafood stew over couscous is one of those dishes.
Sicilian Seafood Stew with Almonds and Couscous
- Large pot with cover
- Food processor (optional for mincing vegetables)
- ¼ cup Olive oil
- 1 small Carrot, minced
- 1 medium Red bell pepper, cored, seeded and minced
- 1 stalk Celery, minced
- 1 medium Onion, minced
- 2 tbsp Tomato paste
- 15 oz Can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1 medium Zucchini, halved longways and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 4 cups Fish stock
- ¼ tsp Saffron
- 12 oz Swordfish, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 12 oz Small shrimp, peeled
- 1 lb Calamari (squid), cleaned and cut into ¼-inch rings
- 1 lb Mussels, cleaned
- ½ cup Chopped toasted almonds
- 2 tbsp Parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp Pine nuts, toasted
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 6 cups Couscous (5 minute type made to packages instructions)
- Make Stock – If using a food processor to mince vegetables, add carrot, celery, onion, and red bell pepper. Pulse to break everything into tiny pieces. Otherwise, finally chop vegetables by hand. Don't go to far or it'll become an unappetizing paste. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the minced vegetables and cook until soft, around 10-12 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes. Turn heat up to high. Add zucchini, garlic, and diced tomatoes. Brown for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Pour in fish broth and saffron and bring to a boil.
- Cook Seafood – Arrange swordfish in stock and, in order, add shrimp, mussels, and calamari. Cover and cook about 10 minutes more until mussels open up.
- Finish Stew – In a saucepan, cook couscous to instructions on box. Remove pot from heat and stir in almonds, parsley, and pine nuts. Season to taste. To serve, divide couscous between serving bowls or plates. Shape couscous into a mound and ladle in vegetable, broth, and seafood. Serve.