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First course for cioppino?

If a fabulously rich and flavorful, red wine-enriched cioppino is your main course, what would you serve as a first course for a casual (yet hopefully somewhat elegant) dinner party?

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  1. asparagus with hard-cooked egg shredded on top
    garlic flans
    stuffed mushroom caps
    simple plate of olives, nuts, artichoke hearts and a few slivers of prosciutto
    very small portion of angel hair pasta finished with lots of lemon and slivered mint
    fried stuffed olives
    endive spears with couscous salad
    roasted yellow peppers with parsley, almonds and preserved lemon

    1. we make this every year as part of our christmas eve fishes dinner and usually its preceded by a very simple spaghetti aglio e olio but with added anchovies into the pan....also - make sure to make extra cioppino - the leftovers are amazing over some pasta....

        1. Something earthy but not too heavy, perhaps mushroom crostini?

            1. Very light red onion, pear and arugula salad with a bit of red wine vinegar-oil-salt-pepper-touch of honey dressing. Dress the feather cut onions ahead of time; add pears and arugula immediately prior to serving. Light and simple is key because of the heavy complexity of the cioppino.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                This is basically what I generally do. I might add a bit of Humboldt Fog cheese (crumbled) if the group are big eaters....

                1. re: susancinsf

                  Actually, right! I forgot some shavings of Parm-Reg or Pecorino.

              2. Thinly sliced fennel and celery with orange segments and herbs. Use the leftover orange juice in the vinagrette.

                1. Baby Arugula dressed with olive oil, sea salt, and shaved parmesan. Need to save room for the main event !

                  1. Sourdough french bread. Nothing more.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mpalmer6c

                      This sounds good.

                      Otherwise, perhaps a few little bruschetta rounds.

                      Or, an artichoke heart and hearts of palm salad with a light vinegarette.

                    2. I like the previously mentioned Caesar salad and sourdough, but I'm having a hard time imagining a somewhat elegant dinner party that features cioppino. Every time I've had cioppino, it's been a 'roll up your sleeves and get messy' affair. That's part of the fun!

                      1. I believe in this case, less is more. The highlight is the cioppino.
                        I would say a salad.

                        The Pear and Fennel sounds good. You will already have a fish based dinner, Caeser would be repetitive.