Fra Diavolo Seafood Stew
This Fra Diavolo Seafood Stew is one of my favorites. It’s so delicious, filling, and satisfying, while also being very easy and customizable. The thick and spicy tomato broth has an underlying sweetness from fennel and richness from parmesan cheese which slowly simmers the mounds of seafood, infusing it all. The best part? This seafood stew can be what you want it to be… a simple and quick weeknight meal (30 minutes) or a decadent and impressive meal for guests. Let me show you…
Seafood soups and stews are a favorite of mine. I have been a pescatarian for… I don’t even know how long at this point, 15 years? Seafood has always been a love of mine, but when I removed meat from my diet, seafood definitely took on a bigger role. Seafood stews are such a great meal. They are (in most cases) very nutritious, high in protein, low in carbs, and deeply satisfying. They can be found in nearly every cuisine… in this case Italian. The inspiration for this Fra Diavolo Seafood Stew came from dishes from two of my favorite restaurants.
#1: Street And Co.
The first is Street and Co. in the Old Port in Portland, Maine. I went to college in Maine and I try to go back once a year to get my dose of that rough, austere coast, jump into the cold North Atlantic sea, and eat lobster and blueberries with abandon. I make it a point to treat myself to dinner at Street and Co. while I am there. They are a Mediterranean, bistro-style seafood restaurant on a cobblestone street in the heart of the Old Port. The inviting modern, rustic design, and inspired seasonal menus at this restaurant are heaven to me and there is always something new or unusual to try.
I have visited here on a few solo trips and eaten at the bar. Made of concrete, it is also a working raw bar and is the best place to eat and get a behind-the-scenes view. Here, I have tried many new things. I ordered my first whole fish and was taught how to remove the bones and the best way to eat it. But to get to the point… at Street and Co. they have a phenomenal Lobster Diavolo dish for two which comes to the table in a copper skillet, brimming with lobster and seafood and linguine. This was my first experience with Fra Diavolo and I have been devoted ever since.
#2: Trattoria Delia
The second source of inspiration is from Trattoria Delia here in Burlington, Vermont. It has been a pinnacle of the local food scene in Burlington for years, creating deeply satisfying, authentic Italian food. It is a treat to visit, especially in the winter months, and sit by the crackling fire. Here, I fell in love with their seafood stew, a large bowl filled with a mix of seafood in a rich tomato broth scented with fennel and herbs. So satisfying and so delicious.
For this recipe, the two of these meet. The heat from the Fra Diavolo mingles with a rich fennel scented broth. I have created this as a thick stew. I don’t eat traditional pasta (being on a low carb, Keto diet,) but for those pasta lovers and people in your life who aren’t on a low carb diet: I sometimes make pasta on the side which can be added to the bowl before you add the stew on top. Everyone’s happy. But to be honest this stew is so satisfying and filling that you don’t need it.
This stew is simple to make from simple ingredients. The base for the stew combines tomatoes, fresh fennel, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, parmesan cheese, and a mix of fresh basil and parsley. It is quick and easy to make at any time of the year.
Next is the seafood. Here is where the flexibility and customization comes in. Here, I used a mix of shrimp, lobster tails, mussels, and tilapia. I always have tilapia on hand, but other firmer white fishes will work, like snapper. The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it what you want it to be.
Looking for a quick weeknight meal? You can pare it down to just shrimp and fish. Looking for a showstopping dinner? Do it up with your seafood choices. Anything goes really. Calamari and clams are great additions too.
You can mix and match your seafood with no real effect on the carbs in this dish, they all have relatively few, with the exception of the mussels. Two medium mussels equal about one gram of carbs. The nutritional information for this recipe factors in 5 mussels per person which adds about a quarter of the carbs in the recipe. The other seafood has no effect on the carbs. So if you are following a low carb diet you will want to keep your eye on them.
First, let’s make the base for the stew. This is a quick and easy to prepare. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for a minute. While that is cooking, add the onion to a food processor and puree. Add this to the pan and cook for four minutes.
Slice the fennel into 1/2 inch slices and cut them in half, add these to the pot and stir. Then add the can of crushed tomatoes and stir. Next is the fun part. Take the whole tomatoes from the can and (with clean hands) squish them and add them to the pot with their juices. Be careful, the juices can fly! Then add the sugar (sugar replacement), salt, and pepper and simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, add the parmesan cheese and fresh herbs and stir. At this point, taste the stew to make sure that it has the right amount of sweetness and salt for you. If so, add the clam juice and stir.
Now we are ready to add the seafood. Stir in the shrimp and mussels. Place the rest of the fish on top of the stew, cover, and simmer until the shellfish opens and the fish and shrimp are firm and opaque. This will be about 5 minutes more.
That’s it, it’s ready to serve! Ladle the seafood and stew into bowls and top with parmesan and fresh herbs… and a healthy grind of some fresh black pepper.
This Fra Diavolo Seafood Stew is one of my go to recipes all year long. This big bowl of spicy, fennel-scented seafood in a rich tomato broth always hits the spot. It is deeply satisfying.
And it’s nutritious! This protein-rich, hearty stew, is brimming with vitamins and minerals – Vitamin K, the B Vitamins, and Zinc to name a few. This stew makes an excellent easy and indulgent meal which is low in carbs and high in protein and flavor – perfect for anyone – especially those on a Keto or low carb diet. Need more fat for your macros? Pair it with cheese and olives!
If you make this Fra Diavolo Seafood Stew be sure to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. And if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see!
How To Make: Fra Diavolo Seafood Stew
|1/4 Cup Olive Oil|
|6 Cloves Garlic, Minced|
|1 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes|
|1 Medium Yellow Onion|
|1 Bulb Fennel|
|14 Ounce Can Of Crushed Tomatoes|
|14 Ounce Can Of Whole Peeled Tomatoes|
|1/2 Tsp. Salt|
|1/4 Tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper|
|4 Tsp. Sugar Or Sugar Replacement|
|1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese|
|1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Parsley|
|1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Basil|
|8 Ounces Clam Juice|
Assorted Seafood - Here I Used:
|20 Shrimp, With Tails On|
|20 Mussels, Cleaned And Scrubbed|
|3 Filets Tilapia|
|4 Lobster Tails|
Heat the olive oil.
Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper.
Puree the onion and add it to the pan.
Add the fennel.
Add the crushed tomatoes.
Add the whole tomatoes.
Add the sugar, salt, and pepper.
Reduce the heat and simmer.
Stir in the parmesan and herbs.
Taste test for sugar and salt.
Add the clam juice.
Add the seafood and cook.
There is no fennel listed in the ingredients or directions. How much should be added?
Hi Margaret, I’m so glad you liked it! It is one of my favorites, especially because it is so simple and quick. Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know. It made my day!
I made this tonight and it was great. I didn’t change a thing I followed the recipe and it was so easy. The whole pot is gone. Thank you so much.
This looks delicious and based on the description I knew I wanted to make it but where is the fennel?
Hi Jo- sounds fabulous – next time we come up for lunch to Burlington can we go to Trattoria Delia and try this – or can you make this for us?
Hi Tammy, Oh my goodness, thank you so much for pointing that out! I had added it to the post but not the recipe. I have updated it now. The recipe uses one fresh fennel bulb, cut into 1/2 inch slices. These are added just after the onion has cooked for 4 minutes, and right before the tomatoes are added. I love it because it adds a little sweetness and depth. If you make this let me know what you think! And again, thank you for letting me know, I really appreciate it.