For special holiday feasts, many ethnic traditions call for meatless meals. Other families choose to prepare seafood for special occasions because of its delicate flavor, a perfect base to enhance with gourmet ingredients.

If you love seafood, but are intimidated by cooking it, now is your time to shine! Check out these recipes for a seafood smorgasbord, and delight your guests with an unexpected dish.

Bloody Mary with Shrimp

Ingredients

22 ounces reduced-sodium V8

1 teaspoon horseradish

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

10 dashes Tabasco

3 ounces vodka

4 cooked shrimp

2 celery stalks

2 lemon slices

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Ice cubes

Directions

In a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake V8, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco, pepper and vodka. Fill two tall glasses with ice and divide the mixture equally between the glasses. Garnish each drink with 2 shrimp, celery and lemon slices.

Recipe adapted from EatingWell.com

Shrimp Tortilla Soup

6 servings

Ingredients

1 to 1½ pounds shrimp, uncooked

¼ cup onion, minced

1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 to 5 cups chicken broth

3 or 4 dried mild chilies

¼ teaspoon cumin, ground

Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Garnish

2 cups corn tortilla strips

¼ to ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

¼ to ½ cup Colby Jack cheese, grated

Instructions

Peel and devein shrimp, retaining tails if desired. Set aside.

In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic in oil until tender and golden. Add broth. Wash, seed and chop chilies; add to broth and simmer 20 minutes. Season with cumin, salt and cayenne.

Add shrimp; simmer 2 or 3 minutes until shrimp are cooked.

To serve, crumble a few tortilla strips into soup bowls. Pour hot soup over tortilla strips, dividing shrimp equally among the bowls. Top with a few tortilla strips, cheese and cilantro. Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Adapted from OceanGarden.com

Pan Seared Bacon Wrapped Scallions with Apricot Chutney

4 servings

Ingredients

12 dry pack fresh sea scallops (size: 10 count per pound), side tendon removed

12 pieces thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for each skewer)

4 bamboo skewers

Lemon wedge

Apricot Chutney:

1 cup Smucker’s apricot preserves

4 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon fresh cracked black peppercorns

Directions

To Prepare Chutney:

Place peppercorns on cutting board. Crush them by pressing down on them with bottom of heavy saucepan.

In fine-mesh sieve or another sieve lined with cheesecloth, strain horseradish for 2 to 3 minutes. Press on the horseradish with a spoon or squeeze the cheesecloth to extract the liquid.

In small bowl, whisk preserves until smooth. Whisk in strained horseradish and crushed peppercorns. You will have more chutney than you need for this recipe. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 weeks.

To Prepare Scallops:

Place bacon strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in 400-degree oven. Cook until half done (approximately 7 minutes).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove bacon from oven and wrap each scallop with bacon strip. Slide 3 bacon-wrapped scallops on each skewer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For each serving:

Heat 8-inch (oven-safe) sauté pan over medium heat. Add extra virgin olive oil to hot pan. Place 1 skewer in pan and sear for approximately 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove pan from stove.

Finish scallops (keeping them in the oven-safe pan) in 450-degree oven for approximately 6 minutes, turning scallops after 3 minutes.

Remove scallops from skewers. Garnish with lemon wedge and apricot chutney.

Recipe from the Lighthouse Restaurant, Cedar Lake

Seafood Risotto

4 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1¼ cups Arborio rice

½ cup white wine

2 cups seafood stock

1 tablespoon butter

½ teaspoon garlic

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup of your choice of chopped seafood

4 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano grated cheese

2 tablespoons roasted red pepper, diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons clarified butter

16 large shrimp

12 U-10 scallops

Directions

In a heavy-bottom pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft. Add the Arborio rice and mix well until all grains are coated. Add the wine and stir until it evaporates. Reduce the heat and add half a cup of stock at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is all absorbed by the rice. Remove from heat and let the rice rest at least half an hour.

Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped seafood and sauté for a minute; add garlic, then heavy cream. Add the rice and stir until well combined. Toss in the Parmigiano-Reggiano grated cheese and roasted red peppers. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, until the shrimp and scallops are cooked.

Set a cast iron skillet on high heat until hot. Add clarified butter and carefully add the scallops with tongs. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add shrimp for 30 seconds each side. Remove seafood to a plate.

To serve, divide the risotto in four shallow bowls and arrange the seafood on top.

Recipe from Chef Louis, Martinis in Valparaiso

Mini Crab Cake Appetizers

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pound lump crab, picked over, finely chopped

⅔ cup light mayonnaise made with olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

5 cups whole wheat bread crumbs, divided

⅔ cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs, beaten

Directions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add crab, mayonnaise, herbs, Old Bay, mustard and 1 cup bread crumbs, stirring well to combine. Form mixture into 32 crab cakes.

Place flour, eggs and remaining bread crumbs in three separate shallow bowls. Dip crab cakes in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in eggs, allowing excess to drip off. Dip in bread crumbs to coat. Set crab cakes on a greased baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray crab cakes with olive oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

To freeze, place crab cakes in a single layer on a baking sheet until firm. Transfer crab cakes to a large freezer bag or freezer container. To reheat, place frozen crab cakes on a greased baking sheet in a 375-degree oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm. Make up to one month ahead and freeze until ready to reheat.

Recipe from Content That Works

And the perfect dessert to pair with any seafood entrée:

Key Lime Tart

Ingredients

2-3 packages frozen mini phyllo tarts

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

½ cup fresh lime juice, plus zest from two limes

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

4 egg yolks

2 cups whipped cream

8-10 Key limes, sliced into thin coins for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks until blended. Add sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, sugar and lime zest. Whisk together until smooth and blended.

Spoon batter into mini tarts so that they are nearly overflowing. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until custard has set. Remove and let cool to room temperature. Top with whipped cream and Key lime coins.

Adapted from GimmeSomeOven.com

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