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The Food Processor

Seafood Stew a Low-Calorie Main Course

February 04, 1988|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

One of my favorite low-calorie main courses is this mixed-seafood stew made with a generous amount of garlic, shellfish and coarsely chopped tomatoes. White wine adds the necessary acidity, and the natural juices present in clams and mussels give the broth a wonderful flavor without adding salt.

The food processor quickly dispatches the chopping chores, from parsley to tomatoes. Note that ingredients are processed in sequence from dry to wet so that it is unnecessary to wash the processor container.

Parsley always requires a dry container and blade, as do garlic and shallots. Tomatoes do not, so they are processed last in the sequence. Because canned Italian plum tomatoes have been cooked during the canning process, their texture is extremely soft. Unless they are processed with very short pulses, they can quickly turn to puree, which would make the stew too liquid.

Since this stew is for dieters, I have eliminated even a tablespoon of olive oil from the recipe, which has about 330 calories per serving. However, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, in which the garlic and shallots could be simmered briefly before adding the tomatoes, would add only 50 calories per serving.

Clams and mussels should be purchased live from the fish market; discard any that remain open (and do not close when the shells are pressed together) or any with broken shells.

I clean the clams and mussels by soaking them in lightly salted cold water and scrubbing the shells quickly with a brush or soap-free scrubbing pad. Filaments that protrude from the straight underside of mussels should be pulled free (it is helpful to grasp them with a dry cloth).


1/3 cup firmly packed stemmed parsley leaves

4 medium cloves garlic

4 medium shallots

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and drained

Large pinch saffron, optional


1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs including chives, basil and oregano

1 cup dry white wine

12 littleneck clams, rinsed and scrubbed

18 mussels, rinsed, scrubbed and cleaned

1 pound large raw shrimp in shells, rinsed

1/2 pound bay or sea scallops, rinsed

Fresh lemon juice

Parsley sprigs

Insert metal blade in processor. Process parsley until finely minced and, with motor on, add garlic and shallots to processor. Transfer minced ingredients to deep 12-inch skillet or 8-quart soup kettle.

With metal blade in place, coarsely chop tomatoes and add to skillet or kettle. Simmer tomato mixture over low heat 5 to 6 minutes. Add saffron, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, herbs and wine, and heat to simmering (you can cool it and set it aside until shortly before serving).

About 15 minutes before serving, arrange clams and mussels in skillet or kettle in 1 layer. Cover, heat to simmering and cook until clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add shrimp and scallops.

Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until clams and mussels are completely open and shrimp and scallops have turned opaque, about 4 minutes longer. Check to be sure all pieces of shellfish are hot and tender. Adjust seasoning with lemon juice and pepper. Garnish each serving with parsley sprig. Makes 4 servings.

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