Seafood salad is traditionally served on Christmas Eve, actually as far back as I can remember this salad was always the first course to a massive Christmas Eve spread, it wasn’t often that we had lobster as kids so this salad was extra special to us and one we looked forward to having. Those flavors and memories have stayed with me my whole life and I love continuing the tradition in my own family.
But I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to wait until Christmas Eve to make this amazing salad, actually any special occasion will do, it’s perfect for entertaining as well as having it for a delicious light meal on a hot summer day. Just pick and choose your favorite seafood and put it together, it’s easier than you think!
For my salad this year I chose bay scallops, calamari, lobster, and two different types of shrimp which have distinctly different tastes. Many Italian families add octopus, baccala, (salt cod) mussels, clams and scungilli or conch, but this is my favorite mix and one that all my guests love, but again you can make it your own with your favorites.
You’re going to poach all the seafood one at a time in an infused poaching liquid and it’s not going to take very long, just a minute or two. I like to use a spider strainer so I can remove the seafood really fast then directly stick it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, when cooled down place the seafood on paper towels to soak up the excess water.
When tossed together you want those flavors to marinate for at least a few hours but even better overnight, just pull it from the fridge and let it warm up a bit before serving.
This salad will become your go to special occasion salad and your guests will go crazy over it. This will grace my table this Christmas Eve and throughout the year.
Wishing all my Dear Readers a Very Merry Christmas and a Very Happy Holiday!
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Italian Seafood Salad
You can choose any seafood combination you wish, the amounts really don’t matter, just adjust the veggies and dressing to accommodate
- This is my seafood combination which made a big platter full.
- 1 lb. bay scallops
- 1 lb. shrimp, some whole, some sliced horizontally for a nice presentation, make sure tails are pulled off
- 1 lb. calamari with tubes and tentacles, tubes sliced into ½ in, strips
- 2 small lobster tails, removed from the shell
- 2 fennel bulbs sliced thin
- ½ large red onion, diced small
- 3 whole celery stalks with leaves, chopped in small slices
- a big handful of pimento stuffed green olives, drained and rinsed
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- lemon slices from one lemon
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- chopped parsley
- crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- POACHING LIQUID
- water in a medium stock pot, a good splash of white wine, 2 bay leaves, 1 of the 4 cloves of crushed garlic, salt, pepper and 3 lemon slices.
- Prepare poaching liquid, get it to a boil then place seafood in one at a time. Bay scallops about 2 minutes, taste one to make sure, calamari, one or two minutes, shrimp until they turn pink and the lobster three to five minutes depending on the size, it will turn pink and curl up.
- Use a spider strainer to take them out of the liquid then place directly into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, you want all your seafood to be tender and not overcooked.
- Drain onto a paper towel lined baking sheet.
- When seafood is all cooked, chop up all your veggies and place into a big bowl, along with the olives.
- Add the prepared seafood into the large bowl.
- Add the three remaining garlic cloves and toss gently.
- MIX UP YOUR DRESSING;
- Half lemon juice to half olive oil with a squeeze of dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk it up until it’s nicely incorporated.
- Drizzle over your salad coating all the seafood and tossing so the garlic and veggies get incorporated.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley, taste for seasoning.
- Spoon it into a pretty platter, add some lemon slices, more parsley and a drizzle of olive oil all over.
- Cover and let it sit in fridge for at least a few hours or overnight, let it warm up a bit before serving, but don’t serve at room temp it needs to be cold.