Mediterranean Seafood Cakes with Green Olive Tapenade Recipe

These simple to prepare seafood cakes are made from shrimp and scallops with an accent of fennel and sundried tomatoes. They can be made fully ahead and reheated. Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients — it’s mostly shopping with a little chopping. The final coating of a little flour gets a flavor boost from the addition of ground toasted fennel seed, but this is totally optional. The do ahead green olive tapenade adds a piquant bite. You can make miniature versions and serve as an hors d’oeuvres for a crowd. The green olive tapenade also makes for an excellent sitting around hors d’ouvres — a change from the more typical black olive tapenade. Reheating takes just ten minutes in the oven.

Mediterranean Seafood Cakes

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine garlic, parsley, olives, anchovies, capers and pepper and process until finely chopped. Add olive oil and process until smooth.

1 pound shrimp, peeled
1/2 pound dry scallops, divided
3 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced fennel
2 tablespoons diced sundried tomato
1/2 cup diced scallion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fennel fronds (the whispy leaves that look like dill)
1 lightly beaten large eggs
1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
2 tablespoons fennel seed (optional)
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flour
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided

Do ahead Cakes may be made up to three days ahead and reheated in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

1 Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to medium sauté pan over low heat. Heat oil. Add fennel, onion and garlic and cook about 5 minutes until translucent. Add sundried tomato and dry vermouth and cook until there is just a small residue of liquid. Off heat. Set aside and allow to cool.
2 Add shrimp and 1/4 pound scallops to work bowl of food processor. Pulse into paste. Transfer to medium mixing bowl.
3 Cut remaining scallops into small cubes. Cubes should be between an eighth and quarter inch.
4 Add to mixing bowl cubed scallops, sautéed vegetables, basil, parsley, fennel fronds, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
6 Making cakes: Have a small bowl of water to moisten hands making it easier to work with sticky shrimp mixture. You will make 12 cakes. Form ball with 3 ounces mixture. Flatten into cake about 1/2-inch thick by 3-inch diameter. Lay out cakes on rimmed cookie sheet. Chill at least one hour or up to two days. If making hors d’oeuvres, reduce 1 ounce cakes.
7 Optional: In small dry pan over moderate heat, toast fennel seed until it lightly tans and releases its fragrance. Immediately transfer out of pan to stop cooking. Cool. Transfer to spice grinder and grind until powder.
8 Combine flour, optional ground fennel seed and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a dinner plate. Lightly coat seafood cakes all over with flour.
9 Add 2 tablespoons oil to medium sauté pan over low-moderate heat. When oil is hot, add cakes and cook until first side is well-browned, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until second side is browned, another 2 minutes. Don’t cook over too high a heat or outside will brown before inside gets cooked. Continue until all cakes are cooked, adding more oil as needed.

Yield 12 3-inch cakes or 30-26 hors d’oeuvres-sized cakes

Green Olive Tapenade
do ahead Tapenade can be made up to a week ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups good quality green olives, rinsed, drained and pitted
2 anchovy filets, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine garlic, parsley, olives, anchovies, capers and pepper and process until finely chopped. Add olive oil and process until smooth.

Serve tapenade on the side, family-style or top seafood cakes.

Yield 1 cup

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