Summer Seafood Salad

As a child celebrations were always marked with great big meals for friends and family. Starters were a giant “antipasto” – the dish before the main meal. This became more elaborate the bigger the crowd and the grander the celebration.

Of course, the temptation was to fill up on the antipasti and then bemoan the fact that we were too full to enjoy the pasta, the meat, the fish, the cheese and salad and the desserts that followed. A lucky predicament to be in.

Seafood Salad (1)

My mum was great at pickling and grilling vegetables, a mainstay on the Italian table. But for me the highlight was always her seafood salad. Back in the day it wasn’t as easy to buy affordable, fresh seafood as it is nowadays. And to be honest, even now it’s still a luxury and for many people, living far from the coast, it’s not always available. This great thing about this dish is that, as you’re packing it full of so many fresh and zingy flavours, frozen seafood is fine. Yes, you heard it here, don’t be ashamed of making your seafood salad with frozen seafood – just be sure you defrost and cook with care and store chilled until serving. No one will be any the wiser!

Another great thing about this dish is that quantities are not important. If you can’t get squid, add octopus, if you can’t find mussels, leave them out or add a few more prawns. It’s up to you, so this is not really a recipe, just an inspiration for you to mix it up your way. What is important is to make it ahead, at least a few hours, or even overnight to allow the dressing to soak into the seafood and the flavours to develop.


  • For the seafood mix, use peeled king prawns, small prawns, sliced squid or baby squid and mussels. Ensure all the fish is cleaned and defrosted and well drained if necessary. Chop up a couple of cloves of garlic and reserve.
  • For the dressing make up a vinaigrette with two thirds extra virgin olive oil, one third acid (I use part lemon juice and part white wine vinegar), a sprinkle of sugar, half a teaspoon of made up mustard (or ¼ teaspoon of dried mustard powder) and salt and pepper. Put it all into a jar and shake it up well.
  • As a main course for 2 people, one tin of drained cannellini beans and two sticks of celery finely chopped.
  • For the salad a mix of finely chopped lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, red onions, and flat leaf parsley. For garnish and flavour at the end, some finely sliced hot chilli pepper and the zest of a lemon.

Keep the seafood separated out (each item takes a slightly different time to cook). In a wok or large frying pan add some olive oil and the garlic. Heat the oil gently and add the king prawns. Cook until the prawns have turned pink and the garlic is just starting to turn brown. Spoon out the prawns and garlic into a large bowl. Add more oil if necessary (no more garlic) and stir fry each of the seafood ingredients and add to the bowl. Mix the seafood together and allow to cool. Don’t worry if you are left with some lovely fish flavoured juices at the bottom of the bowl, these will add flavour to the dressing. If you are using pre cooked seafood, just mix it all together and move onto the next stage.

Seafood Salad (3)

After the seafood has cooled down, add the celery and beans and pour over the dressing. Mix well and chill for a few hours or overnight.

When you are ready to eat, bring the seafood and beans back to almost room temperature and add your salad ingredients. Mix, taste and adjust the seasoning. Plate up and garnish with the chilli and lemon zest.

Perfect as a filling main course, a special starter or as part of a celebration antipasto. Buon appetito!


56 thoughts on “Summer Seafood Salad

  1. That looks delicious and I was just thinking the same as Rosemary – the salad is perfect on that plate!
    I was just buying goat off Holloway Road and found a cheap fish stall in the covered market… 🙂

  2. I have to admit having somewhat avoided seafood salads as the wonderful Sydney Fish Market is over 100 kms ‘up the road’ . . . and what is available at all our supermarkets is definitely defrosted!! But with this recipe I just may have a go . . . looks so moreish . . . am having both cannellini beans and celery for lunch but with ‘boring’ grilled fish!! Thanks for the idea . . .

  3. I have very fond memories of your mum’s seafood salad, yours is just as scrummy – it must be in your genes!

  4. This looks extremely delicious and I think I want some (even though I’m sitting inside and shivering with the crazy cold weather that seems to be sweeping Dorset)!

  5. All of those wriggling and sucking and darting creatures of the sea tamed and delivered in a tangy and most delicious sauce to the table for harmonious finger picking and loading into heavenly crusty bread…it almost sounds like it’s summer again Ms Chica! 😉

      1. Not here it aint Ms Chica…we have been promised a long, dry, hot one this year. Lucky we got that rainwater tank when we did…it might be the saviour of our poor garden. No seafood salad for this little black duck but Stevie-boy will be out pootling around in the Mumbly Cumumbus with a fishing rod strapped to his foot, a hat over his eyes and in the reclining position with a cooler full of “liquid refreshments” as part and parcel of summertime on the river where a fish may, or may not get caught but if it does, it usually goes down the gaping maw of Bezial who adores fresh fish 😉

      2. I think fishing is more about enjoying the moment than what you bring home for tea! We’re racing into autumn in England but back to Spain for a while soon 🙂

  6. Wow what a stunning seafood salad. It is just what I love to eat in summer. Such perfect flavor combos and nuanced textures. Love it.

  7. You made me smile with your description of a giant antipasto. I have a collection of platters just for those humungous appetizers that I used to serve when we entertained all our Italian friends when we lived in Florida. I even have a large metal fish platter for seafood salads. 😀 I must try your version with the beans…that sounds like a great addition.

  8. We’re eating a lot of salad these hot summer days and this one is great as a complete meal and I’m so glad you mention frozen seafood is OK! I usually use it but feel stupidly guilty about it!
    By the way, we watched Tampopo the other day thanks to your recommendation and loved it! It was so funny and inspiring! 😄

  9. This is one of my favorite salads as well. Easy to pull together but always gets the most attention at any get together. I love you addition of beans; it all looks so pretty!!

    1. HI Maulana thanks for all your lovely comments! I’m glad to see that you are enjoying my blog and the various recipes and stories I have posted – it’s a pleasure to hear from you!

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