Having lived 22 years in Rhode Island with its large Italian population, our family grew accustomed to finding freshly made "Snail Salad" in the seafood markets on a regular basis. Now, living in a warmer climate, it took some searching to even find the scungilli. Therefore, Insalata di Scungilli is reserved for special occasions like our traditional Christmas Eve Italian-style seafood dinner.
- 1/2 pound scungilli (without the shell - see recipe notes below)
- 2 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
Place the scungilli in a stock pot and cover completely with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a steady simmer. Cook the scungilli until it can be fairly easily pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes to an hour. Drain and allow to cool enough to handle. If necessary, clean as described in the recipe notes below.
Slice the cooled, cleaned scungilli as thinly as possible and place in a medium bowl. Add the celery and onion. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, add to scungilli, celery and onion mixture and toss to coat well. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, if necessary. Either serve at room temperature or chill a minimum of one hour before serving. This recipe can be made a day in advance.
If you're not familiar, scungilli is a variety of whelk, similar to conch. The shell is quite large, about 6 to 8 inches in length. Most often scungilli are sold frozen and already shelled, although depending on where you live, you may be able to buy them fresh. If you do buy them frozen, defrost them in the refrigerator before cooking.
To clean the scungilli after cooking: remove any hard cartilage you might find at the large end of the snail in addition to the brown sac that runs along the outer side and rinse before slicing.