Cooking

Recipe:Naturally health, impressively delicious, cioppino delivers

This Oct. 26, 2015, photo, shows quick cioppino in Concord, N.H. Cioppino is a tomato-based fish stew that relies on simple and healthy ingredients for flavor. Plus, it’s the ultimate guilt-free comfort food. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

This Oct. 26, 2015, photo, shows quick cioppino in Concord, N.H. Cioppino is a tomato-based fish stew that relies on simple and healthy ingredients for flavor. Plus, it’s the ultimate guilt-free comfort food. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

By Melissa d’Arabian, Associated Press

Classic holiday dishes usually are fattier, sweeter and heavier than our normal fare, so when a traditional dish actually is healthy without any tweaks, that’s something to celebrate, indeed!

So if cioppino isn’t somewhere on your holiday menu, let’s change that. Cioppino is a tomato-based fish stew that relies on simple (and healthy!) ingredients for flavor. Plus, it’s the ultimate guilt-free comfort food.

Cioppino is incredibly versatile. You can make it as simple or fancy as you like depending on the seafood you use. Anything from the fishmonger’s best catch to frozen seafood mixes will work. And a mix of fish and seafood each week is one of the best health moves we can make for our brain and heart health.

My cioppino version is super quick. The result is a light-and-lovely tomato broth that satisfies without weighing you down, which is the perfect foil for those belt-loosening meals that dot the holiday landscape.

The recipe takes just minutes to prepare, making it perfect for entertaining (spend more time with your guests!) and weeknight post-work dining alike. You even could make the broth the night before, then simply heat it up and add the seafood moments before serving. That means you get a company-worthy dinner on the table in under 15 minutes.

Fresh fennel and orange zest are the secrets to great flavor. That hint of licorice plus that slightly sweet aromatic orange zest work magic together in the acidic tomato sauce. And remember, any cioppino recipe really is a template, ready for you to personalize and make your own. Once you make one cioppino this holiday season, I’ll bet you will be enjoying fish stews throughout the year.

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QUICK CIOPPINO

This Oct. 26, 2015, photo, shows quick cioppino in Concord, N.H. Cioppino is a tomato-based fish stew that relies on simple and healthy ingredients for flavor. Plus, it’s the ultimate guilt-free comfort food. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

This Oct. 26, 2015, photo, shows quick cioppino in Concord, N.H. Cioppino is a tomato-based fish stew that relies on simple and healthy ingredients for flavor. Plus, it’s the ultimate guilt-free comfort food. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced (a mandoline is best)

Kosher salt

8 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

1 1/2 cups fish stock or clam juice

1 cup chicken stock (or more fish stock)

1/2 to 1 cup water

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, finely chopped and with juices

2 bay leaves

1 pound cod (or other white fish), cut into 1-inch chunks

1 pound uncooked, shelled shrimp

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, fennel and a generous pinch of salt. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, oregano, thyme and orange zest, then cook, stirring until very fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Increase the heat to high and deglaze the pan with the wine and let bubble for 3 minutes, stirring. Add the stock, 1/2 cup of water, tomatoes and bay leaves, then simmer for 10 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning, then add an additional 1/2 cup of water if too thick. Add the cod and shrimp, then cover and cook just until the fish and shrimp are cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, stir in the lemon juice, then top with parsley to serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 270 calories; 60 calories from fat (22 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 125 mg cholesterol; 910 mg sodium; 15 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 27 g protein.

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Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” http://www.melissadarabian.net

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