Monday, October 7, 2013

Seafood Pasta with Mussels, Scallops, Shrimp & Squid

There is no better pasta for lovers of shellfish than a sublime Seafood Pasta, a pescatorian feast of mixed 'frutti di mare' gently sauteéd with homemade tomato sauce, some red wine 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. As a decadent treat, I love to serve my husbands sensational garlic bread, which is a savoury and sinfully simple recipe. The recipe, as he explains — "Just mash it all up, slap it on the bread and bung it in the oven. It's not rocket science. Just a lot of garlic!" This is one reason I don't add garlic to the sautéed seafood — one only needs so much in a dish.

My husbands sensational garlic butter - looks like hell but tastes great smothered 
on a ciabatta loaf and baked in the oven for 15-20 minutes! Heaven.

A moist and chewy fresh ciabatta - perfect for making garlic bread

The shrimp and scallops are gently sautéed in a little olive oil and tomato sauce 
with a grinding of herbes de Provence

Once lightly cooked, the calamari rings and heads are added with some more sauce 
and a dash of wine and pernod

Seafood Pasta with Mussels, Scallops, Shrimp & Squid
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
20 mussels, de-bearded and soaked in water until needed
20 shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 large scallops, cut into halves or quarters
3 whole calamari, cleaned, bodies cut into rings; tentacles halved
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbsp Pernod
4 cups tomato sauce (preferably homemade, like Mamma Styles)
3-4 tbsp tomato paste
1 package dried pasta such as spaghettini or linguine
1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated for garnish - optional

Start to boil water in a large pot. Place the tomato sauce, tomato paste and wine in a small saucepan over medium heat, and gently simmer until warmed through. Cover and keep warm. 

Heat oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallops and shrimp and gently sauté until they just start to turn opaque, about 6-8 minutes depending on their size. Half way during the cooking, add one cup of warmed tomato sauce and season with some herbes de Provence. Then add the calamari and stir in some more warmed tomato sauce; season to taste with pernod, salt and pepper. Turn the seafood down to low and continue to cook on a gentle simmer stirring frequently, being careful not to overcook.

Meanwhile, place the mussels in a large pot with a modest 1/2 cup of water or white wine and set over medium-high heat. Cover and steam the mussels about 5-8 minutes, until they've opened. Remove the pan from the heat, discard the water and any unopened shells, and cover until needed.

Add the dried pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drain into a colander, return the pasta to the pot and toss with the remaining tomato sauce. 

To serve, add the spaghettini to a large decorative bowl and pour the seafood and sauce over top. Using a large spoon, gently combine the sauce with the pasta, leaving the seafood undisturbed on top as much as you can. Arrange the mussels decoratively in the pasta, hinge side down, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. A bowl for empty shells would be a thoughtful touch, as well as a nice bottle of Chianti and some warm fragrant garlic bread — don't forget the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano! Although not usually suggested for seafood, I don't mind and welcome the culinary transgression.

Guy's Garlic Bread
Serves 4-6

1 fresh ciabatta or baguette
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, mash up the butter and minced garlic until it's well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the chopped parsley. Cut the ciabatta in half length wise being careful not o cut all the way through — it should open like a book. Liberally spread the garlic butter on the inside of both 'halves', then wrap snuggly in aluminum foil. Place in a preheated oven set to 375°F and bake for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, open the garlic bread up from it's foil package and allow it to cook open to the heat of the oven for another 5 minutes. To serve, close the bread back to it's original loaf shape and slice into 1-inch pieces. Place in a bread basket and serve with the pasta.

 "There is no such thing as a little garlic."  
- Arthur Baer -

One of my favourite pasta dishes — 'Heaven' on a plate

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