This recipe is admittedly a little basic, but sometimes, basic is good. Basic is comfortable. Basic is a garlicky, white winey, tomatoey broth that will take care of your expensive seafood, cook it gently, and make everything taste so delicious that you won’t even be mad that fish costs so much. Basic is weeknight friendly. The important lesson here is that a good base will give you the flexibility you need to riff. Add some dried chorizo to the olive oil to start or a tablespoon of harissa at the end for something spicier. Use clams if you don’t like shrimp, scallops if you are feeling fancy. If you stick with basic, the possibilities are endless.
1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and 3 garlic cloves, and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are browned and the garlic is toasted, about 4 minutes.
2. Add the chiles, thyme (if using), and wine, and let simmer until reduced by about half, about 4 minutes.
3. Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them to the pot along with any juices. Add 4 cups water and season with salt and black pepper.
4. Simmer everything together, seasoning it along the way, until the broth has thickened slightly and all the flavors have come together, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Season the shrimp and fish with salt and black pepper. Add the mussels to the pot and cover. Once the mussels have started to open, after about 5 minutes, carefully add the shrimp to the pot, followed by the fish. Cover the pot and cook until the shrimp are bright pink, the fish is opaque white, and everything is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the olives and remove from the heat.
6. Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining garlic clove, add it to the chopped herbs, and season with salt and black pepper.
7. Serve the stew with a drizzle of olive oil and the herbs sprinkled over, alongside obscenely garlicky bread, a good salad, and lots and lots of wine.
Do Ahead: The base for the stew can be made 5 days ahead and refrigerated. When ready to add the seafood, bring to a simmer and proceed.
Reprinted from Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes by Alison Roman. Copyright © 2017 by Alison Roman. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC