This hearty Spanish seafood stew features picada, which is a traditional Catalan-style pesto made with bread, nuts and aromatics. While the stew is delicious on its own, picada adds thickening and flavor diversity to the stew, elevating the dish. Serve with toasted bread for dipping.

Serves four bowls.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, diced small
  • 1/3 cup celery, diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 4 cups shrimp stock or vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 pound littleneck clams, rinsed
  • 1/2 pound black mussels, rinsed
  • 3/4 pound Texas wild-caught shrimp
  • Picada (see recipe)
  • sliced toasted baguettes

Picada (Makes 3/4 cup)

  • 1 slice day-old crusty bread
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • pinch each salt and pepper


  • Warm olive oil in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and garlic to the pan and sauté the vegetables until the onions turn translucent and the vegetables begin to soften. Do not allow the vegetables to brown.
  • Add the thyme, bay leaves, fennel, cayenne, paprika, pepper and salt to the pan, and stir them with the vegetables for a few minutes until they become fragrant.
  • Add the sherry, white wine and tomato puree as well as the stock to the pan and bring the mixture to a full simmer. Turn the heat down a little, cover the pan and allow the broth to simmer gently for about twenty minutes. Check the broth for seasoning and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper.
  • Turn the heat back up to a full simmer and add the clams to the pan, replacing the lid, and allow them to cook in the broth for about four minutes. Next, add the mussels and shrimp to the pan and once again cover with the lid. Allow about three to four minutes for the seafood to cook fully. The clams and mussels should open up fully and the shrimp should curl and turn pink.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and divide the seafood and broth evenly between four warm serving bowls.
  • Serve the stew hot and allow each guest to add a spoonful or two of picada to the stew to thicken and add flavor diversity along with some toasted bread for dipping in the stew.


  • Toast the bread then trim away the crusts and tear the remaining bread into small pieces.
  • Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a loose paste.
  • Adjust seasoning accordingly with salt and pepper, then place the paste in a small bowl.
  • The picada is best served at room temperature.