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Easy dinner recipes: Cioppino in about an hour or less

You might never guess how simple cioppino is to prepare

A rustic tomato-based stew combining an assortment of fish and shellfish, cioppino is credited to the Italian immigrants of San Francisco. You might never guess how easy it is to prepare given the rich depth of flavor to be found in a simple bowlful. And it makes a great weeknight meal.

Ciopinot's "no work" cioppino: It may take a little work prepping the ingredients, but Ciopinot's take on this classic packs a lot of flavor in just a few simple steps.

Far Niente cioppino: This stew is thick enough to serve over pasta, which is exactly how it's done at Far Niente. You can make a soup of it, if you wish. You may use any combination of seafood you like.

Ocean Avenue cioppino: Ocean Avenue's version is an easy-to-make showcase for good seafood. The quickly made sauce is lighter in flavor than versions with a long-simmered fish broth base, but the convenience is a big advantage. Serve it with garlic bread.

OCEAN AVENUE CIOPPINO

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Serves 6

Note: From chef Silvano Mestas.

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
    1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
    1/4 cup chopped leek, white part only
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1/2 cup tomato paste
    1 pound fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
    1/2 cup dry red wine
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
    1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
    1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red chiles
    6 cups clam juice
    1/2 pound mixed fresh fish (such as mahi-mahi or halibut), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
    1 dozen mussels, cleaned
    1/2 pound calamari, cut into half-inch rings
    1 dozen clams, cleaned
    2 Dungeness crabs, cooked, cracked into large serving pieces, outer shell discarded and drained

1. Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, leek and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the tomato paste, fresh and canned tomatoes, wine, parsley, oregano, marjoram, basil and dried chiles. Cook 5 minutes. Add the clam juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

3. Add the fish, mussels, calamari, clams and crabs. Simmer 10 minutes, removing the clams and mussels as they open and the fish as it is cooked through. Discard any unopened shellfish. Divide the seafood among serving bowls and ladle the broth over. Serve hot.

Each serving: 297 calories; 33 grams protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 174 mg. cholesterol; 907 mg. sodium.

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