Mediterranean seafood salad
Kick off the feast with a cool and refreshing seafood medley typical of Tuscany – it also makes for a splendid display on the Christmas dinner table. Sweet and creamy cannellini beans balance the dish’s briny flavours.
Serves 4 Prep time 40 minutes + 30 minutes cool time
Cook time 2 hours 15 minutes
150g cannellini beans
3 sage leaves
1 sprig rosemary
oil of very ripe olives (preferably Terre Bormane, available at Secrets Fine Food)
fleur de sel, to taste
- Place cannellini beans in a pot, cover with cold water and let it sit for 2 hours.
- Bring beans and water mixture to a boil. Skim scum from the surface, then add sage leaves, rosemary and white peppercorns tied in a white cloth like with a bouquet garni. Simmer for about 1 hour. Add fleur de sel about 45 minutes into the cooking time. Remove from heat and set aside after cooking.
preparing the seafood
8 gamberoni (red prawns)
100g small squid, cleaned
1 litre water
150g white calamari meat, cleaned
- Remove heads from 4 out of 8 prawns and shell all tails of all 8 prawns. Be careful not to remove the heads from the 4 other prawns.
- Carefully arrange prawns on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate.
- Rinse small squid and dry with a clean dry towel.
- Make cold salt water by mixing salt with water. Cover clams with cold salt water and leave for two hours in a cool place.
- Cut white calamari into large triangles and score the exterior evenly with a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Set aside in a cool place.
cooking the seafood
2 lemons, halved, juice squeezed and reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
5g black peppercorns
100ml spirit vinegar
4g coarse grey sea salt
1kg Mediterranean octopus
oil of very ripe olives
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 sprig rosemary
50ml white wine
fleur de sel, to taste
- Poach lobster for about 7 minutes, then chill in ice water. Remove meat from the shell and set aside.
- Prepare a court-bouillon for cooking the octopus. In a stainless steel pot, place 2 lemons and its juices, thyme, bay leaf, black peppercorns, spirit vinegar, a handful of coarse grey sea salt and a cork. (The cork helps to keep the octopus tender.) Bring mixture to a boil.
- Add cleaned octopus to court-bouillon, then move pot to the edge of the stove so that the mixture doesn’t come to a boil and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and let octopus cool in the broth. Drain broth, then slice tentacles into 1½cm (½-inch) lengths and cover with oil from very ripe olives. Top with garlic and rosemary, then set aside in a cool place.
- Drain octopus slices and set aside.
- In a sauté pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil and sear the small squid, clams and white calamari. Deglaze with white wine, then cover and cook quickly on high heat.
- When the clams have opened up, drain the contents of the sauté pan through a strainer and reserve the strained liquid.
- Season seafood to taste with fleur de sel. Shell 8 clams, reserving the remaining 12 in their shells.
- Return all seafood to the strained liquid.
- Sear prawns in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil, then add lobster meat to reheat and season with a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Drain on a stainless steel rack.
12 tomatoes, peeled
salt, to taste
1 bunch thyme
½ bunch basil leaves (about 50g), chopped
aged wine vinegar
oil from very ripe olives
few drops lemon juice
10g ground espelette pepper
50g wild arugula
40g salmon roe
10 black olives
extra virgin olive oil
fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Make confit tomatoes by marinating peeled tomatoes with salt, thyme and olive oil, then roast in the oven for 2 hours at 80°C.
- Drain cannellini beans and remove aromatic garnishes. Add confit tomatoes and basil, then season with a drizzle of aged wine vinegar and oil from very ripe olives.
- Mix all seafood and beans together with lemon juice, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Mix everything again gently, then add some ground espelette pepper powder and season if needed.
- When everything has cooled to a pleasant but not too cold temperature, divide seafood and beans among serving plates. Add arugula, romaine lettuce, quenelles of caviar and salmon roe, and black olives, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle a little fleur de sel and black pepper, then serve immediately.