Ligurian seafood stew

Contributed by Food for health editors

Ligurian seafood stew

The word “stew” conjures up a hearty dish best served in fall or winter. But unlike the traditional meat stews of Europe and America, Mediterranean seafood stews are light and flavorful, and can be easily prepared in less than an hour.

This dish draws its inspiration from Liguria, a Northern Italian region that forms a crescent along the Ligurian Sea. Fish and shellfish are prevalent in Ligurian cuisine because of the region’s wide coastline, as is the basil that flourishes in the Mediterranean air. This delicious, summery stew combines them.

Servings: 4

Prep time: 30 to 45 minutes


  • 3 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Note: Instead of shrimp, you can use a firm white fish such as sea bass, cod, or swordfish, cut into bite-sized pieces. Or use a mixture of shrimp and fish.


  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, washed
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Note: Homemade pesto makes a big difference, but if you prefer, you can substitute 1/2 to 3/4 cup of store-bought basil pesto.


  1. Prepare pesto by combining basil and garlic in food processor and then adding 1/2 cup of olive oil and processing until fine. Mix in cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Sauté leeks in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add minced garlic, and sauté for another minute.
  4. Raise heat to medium high, and add wine.
  5. Boil vigorously for 4 minutes.
  6. Add lemon juice and tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes begin to release their juice.
  7. Add shrimp or fish. Toss well, and simmer 3 to 4 minutes (until shrimp are pink and firm or fish is cooked through); take care not to overcook.
  8. Stir in pesto to taste, and adjust seasonings.
  9. Serve with a green salad and a crusty baguette for sopping up the broth.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 580
  • Total fat: 33 g
  • Saturated fat: 5 g
  • Cholesterol: 260 mg
  • Sodium: 300 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 20 g
  • Dietary fiber: 3 g
  • Total sugars: 6 g
  • Protein: 39 g

Includes use of half the pesto. Can adjust to for taste and calorie preferences.