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Spanish Spice

Spanish Spice

Fennel, Saffron & Pepper Seafood Stew

This Spanish inspired dish is chock full of savory-ness! Just a whiff sends me back to warm spring days sitting outside in a waterfront cafe sipping the local rosé, wishing everyday could be as blissful. Makes a great lunch offering in half portion, with a salad and some fresh baked bread. It is certainly a wonderful main course, but I have also had much success serving this in clear glass coffee cups, as an “amuse-bouche” or first course, as guests arrive.

Wine Pairing: Lots of directions you could go here – white, rosé, even a red…a fruity crisp Spanish wine like Egeo 750ml ($12.99) would work nicely with its hints of anise white pepper. A rich rosé like By.OTT 750ml ($24.99) or a cru Beaujolais, with a light chill, such as Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, 750ml ($12.99) or even an old vine Greanache like Evodia, 750ml ($12.99).










  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves crushed, more for the bread
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (2 cups)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, stalks and fronds removed, quartered lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise (4 cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise (3/4 cup)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, stem, ribs, and seeds removed and discarded; flesh thinly sliced lengthwise (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (1 minced, 1 whole)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • One 15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  •  1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 tsp pimentón (smoked paprika)
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 baguette slices, 3/4 inch thick
  • 11 oz skinless halibut fillets or other firm white fish, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 13 mussels, scrubbed and debearded


  1. Over medium, heat the oil in a 5-quart saucepan. Add the onion, fennel, carrot and bell pepper, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and minced garlic, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 45 seconds.
  3. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add 3 1/2 cups of water, the chickpeas, thyme, pimentón saffron and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender and the stew has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Position an oven rack 6 inches from the heating element and heat the broiler on high.
  7. Put the bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet and brush both sides with oil. Broil, flipping once, until both sides are golden-brown, about 4 minutes total.
  8. Remove from the oven and rub each slice with a whole clove of garlic.
  9. Gently stir the halibut and mussels into the stew, cover, and simmer until all of the mussels have opened and fish is cooked through, 4 to 8 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
  10. Ladle into wide, shallow bowls and serve with the garlic toast.

This recipe is courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine, with tweaks from our CSWS staffer Richard and his dog, Bella.

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