If you’re simmering up a pot of that aromatic, seafood-loaded delight known as cioppino, you might be wondering what side dishes could step up to the plate and complement its robust, briny goodness. Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with a roster of delicious pairings that promise to elevate your cioppino experience.
So, dive in and discover your perfect match – your taste buds will thank you!
I’ve put all the recipes in specific categories to help you find your favorites faster. Jump around using the navigation below!
This includes options such as sourdough bread, pasta, risotto, and garlic bread. These foods provide a hearty substance to the meal, complementing the stew with their diverse textures and flavors.
The bread is excellent for sopping up the flavorful broth, while pasta and risotto can serve as a base, absorbing the cioppino’s robust flavors.
A freshly baked baguette provides a simple and effective way to soak up the rich, tomato-based broth of cioppino. It requires no preparation – simply slice and serve alongside the stew. The crunchiness of the crust and the softness of the interior make for a great texture contrast with the cioppino.
And obviously, you can swap that baguette for any kind of bread you have on hand.
This No Knead Focaccia recipe is a great pairing with Cioppino because the fluffy and chewy texture of the bread complements the hearty and flavorful seafood stew. The garlic and rosemary in the focaccia also add a nice aromatic touch to the dish.
To pair them together, simply serve the warm focaccia alongside a bowl of hot and steamy Cioppino for a satisfying meal.
(Looking for a good pairing for focaccia? Check out my article on focaccia pairings.)
A step up from the baguette and focaccia, garlic bread adds a savory depth to the cioppino meal.
You can simply rub a cut garlic clove on toasted bread slices, or mix minced garlic with butter, spread it on the bread and toast it until golden. The buttery, garlic flavors marry well with the seafood flavors in the stew.
Serving cioppino atop a bed of freshly cooked spaghetti turns the stew into a complete, satisfying meal. Simply cook the spaghetti according to package instructions and serve the cioppino on top. The pasta absorbs some of the broth, enhancing its flavor.
Creamy polenta can be a delightful alternative to bread or pasta. While it requires a bit more attention to cook properly, its creaminess adds a nice contrast to the cioppino, and it does an excellent job of soaking up the broth.
Just be sure to stir regularly to achieve the right consistency.
A more complex carbohydrate option, risotto requires attentive cooking to achieve its signature creamy texture.
A simple parmesan risotto could be a great option, providing a subtle, creamy base that allows the cioppino flavors to shine.
Sourdough Bread Bowls
For a truly San Franciscan experience, serve the cioppino in a hollowed-out sourdough bread bowl.
While this requires some effort – you’ll need to bake the sourdough (or buy it), hollow it out, and then warm it before serving – the result is an impressive and deliciously edible vessel for the stew.
For the most ambitious option, consider making your own pasta from scratch. Whether it’s fettuccine, pappardelle, or German spaetzle, handmade pasta has a unique texture and freshness that pairs beautifully with cioppino.
The pasta-making process can be labor-intensive and requires some skill, but the result can elevate your cioppino meal to a new level.
A light, refreshing salad can provide a contrast to the hearty and rich cioppino. It offers a palate-cleansing role and adds a fresh note to the meal.
Mixed Green Salad
The easiest salad option is a simple mixed green salad. Tossed with a vinaigrette made from olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, it offers a crisp and refreshing contrast to the rich cioppino.
Classic Caesar Salad
A step up, but still easy to assemble, a classic Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing complements the cioppino. The creaminess of the Caesar dressing works well with the tomato-based cioppino broth.
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Also known as a Caprese salad, this dish requires ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and balsamic reduction. The fresh, bright flavors and the hint of acidity from the tomatoes help cut through the richness of cioppino.
The combination of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, olives, and feta cheese dressed with olive oil and lemon juice provides a refreshing side to the cioppino. The tangy feta and olives contrast well with the hearty stew.
Arugula Salad with Parmesan and Lemon Vinaigrette
A bit more sophisticated, this salad involves arugula, shaved Parmesan, and a homemade lemon vinaigrette. Arugula’s peppery bite and the salty Parmesan complement the rich flavors in cioppino.
This Greek Panzanella Salad is a great pairing for cioppino because it has a fresh and light flavor that complements the rich and hearty flavors of the stew. The salad’s tangy vinaigrette and salty feta cheese provide a nice contrast to the savory tomato-based broth of the cioppino.
To pair them together, serve the salad as a side dish alongside the cioppino.
Persimmon Salad with Citrus Dressing
This Persimmon Salad with Citrus Dressing is a great pairing for cioppino because the bright and tangy flavors in the salad complement the rich and savory flavors in the cioppino. The sweetness of the persimmons and pomegranate seeds provide a nice contrast to the spiciness of the cioppino.
To pair it with cioppino, serve the salad as a refreshing side dish alongside the hearty seafood stew.
Seafood salad is a great pairing for cioppino as both dishes feature a variety of seafood and a similar flavor profile. The acidity from the lemon juice and Old Bay Seasoning in the seafood salad complements the tomato-based broth in cioppino.
Serve the seafood salad as a side dish alongside the seafood stew.
This category covers earthy roasted vegetables and grilled or steamed artichokes. Roasted vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or root vegetables complement the rich, seafood flavors in cioppino.
Artichokes, a local product of the West Coast where cioppino originates, often accompany it. The natural sweetness of artichokes pairs well with the rich, savory flavors of the stew, while the roasted vegetables add a hearty yet healthy side to the meal.
The simplest side option is steamed asparagus. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and you have a quick, easy, and delicious side. The natural flavors of the asparagus complement the hearty seafood stew.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
A slightly more involved option, grilled corn on the cob offers a sweet and smoky contrast to the savory cioppino. Brush the corn with butter and grill it until lightly charred for the best flavor.
Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
These require a bit more time and preparation. Tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and then roasted until crispy, they add a delightful crunch and earthy flavor to the meal.
Steamed artichokes are an excellent pairing with cioppino, as the subtle sweetness of the artichoke complements the rich broth. They require some time to steam, but their unique flavor and texture make the effort worthwhile.
Marinated Artichoke Salad
Here’s another artichoke option.
This Italian Marinated Artichoke Salad is a great pairing for cioppino because the salad’s tangy and herbaceous flavors complement the rich and savory flavors of the cioppino.
To pair it with cioppino, simply serve the salad as a side dish alongside the cioppino. The salad’s light and refreshing flavors will balance out the hearty and rich flavors of the cioppino.
Dive into deliciousness with this Italian Marinated Artichoke Salad Recipe from Wholesome Yum | Easy healthy recipes. 10 ingredients or less..
Roasted Root Vegetables
Root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and beets can be roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. The earthy flavors and caramelized edges of these vegetables provide a wonderful contrast to the cioppino.
Grilled Vegetable Skewers
For a more visually appealing option, skewers of mixed vegetables (such as bell peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes) can be grilled for a colorful and flavorful side dish. The grilling brings out the natural sugars in the vegetables, adding a slight sweetness that pairs well with the savory cioppino.
Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan
Roasting cauliflower florets with olive oil, garlic, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese transforms this simple vegetable into a side dish full of flavor and texture. The slight crunch of the roasted cauliflower and the salty, umami flavor of the Parmesan pair well with the rich seafood flavors in cioppino.
Light and refreshing desserts, like sorbet or fresh fruit, can cleanse the palate after the rich stew. These help to end the meal on a light and satisfying note.
This is the easiest option.
A bowl of fresh, ripe strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or a mix of these can provide a refreshing end to the meal. Their natural sweetness and slight tartness can cleanse the palate after the savory cioppino.
Another simple option, lemon sorbet offers a bright, citrusy note that contrasts nicely with the rich flavors of the cioppino. Most grocery stores carry this, or you can make it at home with just a few ingredients if you have an ice cream maker.
A well-curated fruit salad can be a refreshing way to end a cioppino meal.
Use a variety of fresh, in-season fruits for the best flavors. A splash of lime or lemon juice can help bring out the flavors of the fruit.
Italian almond biscotti can offer a light, crunchy treat after the cioppino. Whether store-bought or homemade, they can be served alongside coffee or tea, providing a subtle sweetness without being too heavy.
A classic Italian dessert, panna cotta is a creamy, yet light, dessert that can be flavored with vanilla, lemon, or even topped with a light fruit compote.
It does require some cooking and setting time, but its delicate flavor and texture make it a wonderful end to a meal.
This semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water, and various flavorings is a refreshing palate cleanser. A lemon or other citrus granita could be a great choice after cioppino.
This requires periodic stirring as it freezes to achieve the right texture, so it’s a bit more work than some of the other options.
This meringue-based dessert topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit is a light yet satisfying option. The crunchy meringue and soft cream offer a delightful texture contrast, while the fruit adds freshness.
It does, however, require careful baking to achieve the right meringue texture.
For a more ambitious dessert option, tiramisu provides a layered flavor experience with its coffee-soaked ladyfingers, rich mascarpone cream, and cocoa topping.
It’s a bit more indulgent, but it’s still light enough not to overwhelm the palate after cioppino.
(Tiramisu also pairs well with Italian wedding soup.)
The most challenging but rewarding option might be a homemade lemon tart. The buttery crust and tangy, sweet lemon curd offer a fantastic flavor contrast.
It requires making both a pastry crust and a lemon curd, so it’s a bit more labor-intensive than the other options.
However, the bright, citrusy notes make it an excellent pairing with cioppino.