Are you one of those people who orders pasta with seafood in a restaurant but never makes it at home? Fear not, it’s much easier to prepare than you think and so much better when you can pick and choose the seafood components yourself fresh from the market. “But I don’t have time to cook,” is no excuse either since this whole thing comes together in the kitchen in less time than it takes to order out.
It just takes a little forethought – like stopping at the market on the way home from work – something you probably do anyway. When I made this, I was planning to use bay scallops but couldn’t find them, so I bought the larger sea scallops instead - cutting them into quarters. I also got squid, shrimp and some cockles from New Zealand. I like to include mussels in this dish too, but you normally can’t buy just a dozen or so – you’ve got to buy a huge sack of them, which wasn’t going to work in this meal for two people. You can add or subtract any other kind seafood you like.
This was also a good time to try out an olive oil I just received among a box of goodies from Olio2go.com. Check out their website and you’ll find not only an array of olive oils from nearly every region in Italy, but other products that are difficult to find here in the states, including a green tomato mostarda and mugolio, a pine bud syrup.
One of the olive oils they sent was Olio Verde al Limone, an olive oil made by Gianfranco Becchina, whose olive groves in Sicily are interspersed with lemon trees. The olives and lemons are pressed together at the mill, resulting in a peppery olive oil infused with a bright citrus taste. It’s like summertime in a bottle. The two flavors complement each other perfectly, making the oil ideal for cold seafood salads, grilled fish, chicken or anything else your imagination can dream up.
In my case it led to this pasta dish. I didn’t use the lemon oil olive for sautéing the seafood, just to drizzle on top after the pasta was put together. I wanted the fresh flavor of the lemon to shine through and I could be wrong, but I was afraid that heating it might alter it somehow.
The lemon flavored olive oil drizzled on top added just enough of a citrus flavor without hitting you over the head. I can’t wait to try it in other recipes, but for at least last night, it hit just the right note in the seafood pasta. So try it yourself. I’ll bet you and whoever shares this dish with you will be fighting over the last bit of spaghetti and seafood. Just don’t sprinkle parmesan cheese on top or I’ll hit you with an overcooked noodle.
Spaghetti Ai Frutti Di Mare
(Spaghetti with seafood)
(for two people)
8 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
8 medium calamari (squid), cleaned and cut into rings
8 clams (I used New Zealand cockles)
1/2 pound scallops
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. butter
1 medium shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Olio Verde al Limone olive oil
Get the water for the pasta boiling before starting the rest of the recipe since it takes only about 10 minutes to make start to finish. You’ll have three pots going at once – one for boiling the pasta, one for making the sauce and one for steaming the clams.
Place butter and 1/4 cup olive oil in one pan with shallot and garlic. Cook over low heat until wilted. Add the scallops and shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Pour the white wine into the pan and add the calamari. Cook for another minute or two, then remove the seafood with a slotted spoon to a bowl or dish. Add the red pepper flakes to the liquid. Turn the heat up to high and let the sauce reduce a bit. This should take a couple of minutes.
While you’re reducing the liquid, you should start the pasta cooking in boiling, salted water. I used thin spaghetti that takes about five minutes to cook, but I removed it from the water after only four minutes when it was still al dente. Reserve some of the cooking water.
While you’re cooking the pasta, steam the clams in another pan until they open – it should take about three or four minutes. Remove from clams and set aside.
Add the drained pasta to the pot with the reduced sauce. Put the seafood back in and season with white pepper. Add the parsley and mix everything together. If needed, add a little of the pasta water. Drizzle the lemon olive oil on top and serve.