Fresh seafood abounds on Spain’s northern Mediterranean coast, and bubbling stews thick with shrimp, mussels and clams are a regional staple. Similar to the bouillabaisse of neighboring Marseille, this Catalan zarzuela gets a lift from a freshly made picada, a mix of chopped nuts, parsley and garlic that adds a buttery, bright flavor to the dish. A classic picada includes bread, but we’ve omitted it for this paleo and gluten-free version.
- 10 ounces wild Gulf shrimp or wild tail-on jumbo shrimp
- 1 organic yellow onion
- 1 organic red bell pepper
- 1 or 2 cloves organic peeled fresh garlic
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
- 1 ounce roasted almonds
- 4 or 5 sprigs organic fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 organic lemon
- Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
- Garlic press or fine-toothed grater (optional)
- Small bowl
- Large sauce pot
1. Prep the zarzuela ingredients; cook the shrimp.
Rinse the shrimp, then drain on a paper towel-lined plate and pat dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Peel and coarsely chop enough onion to measure 1 cup. Remove the stem, ribs and seeds from the bell pepper; cut the pepper lengthwise into ½-inch-wide strips, then crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Finely chop, press or grate enough garlic to measure 2 teaspoons; divide into 2 equal portions and use half for the zarzuela and half for the picada.
In a large sauce pot over medium-high heat, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil until hot but not smoking. Working in batches if needed, add the shrimp and cook, turning once, until firm and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side for regular shrimp, 2 to 3 minutes per side for jumbo shrimp. Transfer to a plate. Add more oil between batches if needed. Wipe out the pot.
2. Cook the zarzuela.
In the same pot used for the shrimp, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, half the garlic, paprika and 1½ cups water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the shrimp and season to taste with salt and pepper.
While the zarzuela cooks, prepare the picada and lemon.
3. Make the picada; prep the lemon.
Finely chop the almonds. Strip the parsley leaves from the stems; finely chop the leaves. Cut the lemon into wedges for garnish.
In a small bowl, stir together the almonds, remaining garlic, parsley and 1 tablespoon of oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the shrimp zarzuela to individual bowls, top with the picada and serve with the lemon wedges.
- Measure the onion.
- Press the garlic (if you have a press).
- Strip the parsley leaves.
- Stir the picada.
- Spoon the picada on the stew.