Friday, October 22, 2010

Spaghettini con Frutti di Mare

There is no better pasta dish for seafood lovers than Spaghettini con Frutti di Mare, a pescatorian feast of mixed shellfish gently sauteéd with garlic, wine, homemade tomato sauce and a dash of Pernod. Use only the freshest seafood to make this dish, because the sweet juices they render as they cook are key to the unmistakable flavour and heavenly aroma of this Mediterranean classic. Even Neptune weeps.

Spaghettini con Frutti di Mare

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 mussels, washed and de-bearded
12 small clams, washed
16 shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 large scallops, cut into quarters
2 whole calamari, cleaned, bodies cut into rings; tentacles halved
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp Pernod
3 cups tomato sauce (preferably homemade, like Mamma Styles)
1 package dried spaghettini or similar
1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

  1. Start to boil water in a large pot. 
  2. Place the tomato sauce in a small saucepan, over medium heat, and gently simmer until warmed through. Cover and set aside. 
  3. Heat oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat, and cook garlic until it sizzles. Add scallops and calamari, bodies and heads, and gently sauté until partially cooked, about 3-5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until they start turning opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine, pernod and warmed tomato sauce, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until it starts to bubble, about 3 minutes. 
  4. In the meantime, add the spaghettini to the boiling water and cook until al dente. 
  5. Once the sauce is bubbling nicely, place each of the mussels and clams hinge side down, then cover and continue to cook until the mussel shells have opened fully, about another 5 minutes. Discard any unopened shells. 
  6. Remove the mussels and clams from the sauce temporarily, setting them aside in a small bowl. Toss the rest of the sauce with the spaghettini. Serve in warmed pasta bowls, dividing the seafood fairly, and arranging the mussels and clams decoratively around the perimeter. Garnish with some chopped parsley, and you're good to go! A bowl for empty shells would be a thoughtful touch, as well as nice glass of Chianti.

COOK'S NOTE: You can also make this recipe as a 'white' sauce by omitting the tomatoes, and using 1 cup of white wine rather than 1/2 cup of red and also adding 1 cup of clam juice. Everything else in the recipe is just the same.