When I was visiting San Francisco last year, I was intrigued by this popular dish called Cioppino, that originated in this city. It inspired me to create a vegan version using some of the fundamental ingredients that make up this dish. Cioppino means “chopped” in Italian, and this Italian American stew is traditionally made with the catch of the day from fisherman on the bay. This is similar to a bouillabaisse; however, there is more emphasis on the rich tomato flavor and fennel. My version is made with mushrooms, potatoes and artichokes. I opted for fennel pollen instead of fennel seeds since I like the smoother flavor of the fennel pollen. It can be hard to find, so you can certainly use fennel seeds. I also chose to use tomato paste in place of the crushed tomatoes. The paste adds a touch more sweetness. It’s really just a matter of taste. You can even use both the crushed tomatoes and some tomato paste too. Served along with some crunchy, toasted bread, it is a hearty, flavorful treat. I don’t know about you, but I love dipping crispy bread into a good sauce! You can also add in some beans or lentils if you wish.
View from the Bay – San Francisco
Heat oven to 400F. Add the potatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Also add the mushrooms to another baking sheet, and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season the potatoes and mushrooms with salt + pepper. Bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes and the potatoes for 25 minutes. In a large stockpot or sauté pan, set to medium high heat and add two tablespoons olive oil. Add in the diced fennel and sliced garlic. Cook until tender. Slowly add the wine and vegetable stock and stir. Add in the strained or crushed tomatoes and reduce the heat to simmer. Add in the fennel pollen or fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and Old Bay Seasoning and stir. If you have a salty vegetable stock, you may not need more salt. Add salt and pepper to taste as needed. Continue to let everything simmer for about 20 minutes.
Next, add the cooked potatoes + mushrooms to the pan. Then add in the beans. Stir and simmer for a few more minutes. Top with fresh parsley or basil. Serve hot with toasted baguette.
(I used Purple Majesty potatoes in this pic here)