Linguine ai Frutti di Mare
Culinary tradition in Italy is diverse and varied among its regions. As a peninsula, with almost half of our regions being coastal, seafood is prominent. Whichever “lido” (Italian beach) you pick, you will find a restaurant which serves fresh seafood. And what is the evergreen in a lido menu? Pasta with frutti di mare! Whether you use dry or fresh pasta, this exquisite seafood sauce bursts in your mouth and gives you the flavor of the ocean.
350 gr (12.5 oz) dry Linguine pasta (Spaghetti is a good alternative)
230 gr (approx. 1/2 lb) fresh shrimp (head on, shell on)
500 gr (1 lb) fresh mussels (or frozen)
500 gr (1 lb) fresh clams (or frozen)
230 gr (½ lb) fresh Calamari
350 gr (9 oz) cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch of parsley
3 garlic cloves
½ medium sized carrot
1 tiny chili pepper
1 ½ glass of white wine (Verdicchio is highly recommended – or similar dry white); remember, when it comes to fish, you should try to use the wine you’re going to pair with your dish for cooking)
TO DO IF YOU BUY FRESH CLAMS: pour cold water in a large bowl and add two tbsp of coarse salt. Pour in your fresh clams and mix them with your hands. Let them rest for 1hour and 15 minutes. After that time, drain the water off, rinse your clams under cold running water (by using a colander), then refill the bowl of water, add the same quantity of salt and pour your fresh clams back in the bowl. In this way, they will release their excess sand. After another hour and 15 minutes, drain their water off, and rinse them under cold water again. Set aside.
Bring the water in a large pot to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
On a cutting board, clean the shrimp as follows: remove their heads with your hands, and set them aside. Then remove their shells (carapace), and dispose of it. After that, by using a knife, clean their backs by carving out the their entrails. Set the fresh shrimp aside.
Peel and coarsely chop half a carrot.
Add a mashed garlic clove, a parsley sprig, the coarsely chopped carrot, and some chili pepper to a saucepan, drizzle some EVOO and sauté over medium heat. After 1 minute, and once browned, remove the garlic, the parsley sprig as well as the chili pepper. Pour in the shrimp heads and two cherry tomatoes. Toss. Let them brown and then add ½ glass of white wine. After the alcoholic part has been reduced, pour in 4-6 cups of water, season with salt, and let simmer. In this way, you will get a fantastic fish stock.
Chop your cherry tomatoes in half and set aside.
Cut your calamari in rings and set aside.
Place the mussels in a colander in the sink and run water over them, using your hands or a clean scrubbing brush to rub off any debris like seaweed, sand, barnacles, or mud spots that could be on the shells. If you find any mussels with open shells, dispose of them, they are no longer fresh and likely spoiled. If your mussels have their beard on (which will mean that they are fresh and possibly not farm raised; the “beard” of a mussel is the clump of hair-like fibers that sprouts from the shell), remove it from the mussels by grabbing it with your thumb and forefinger and tug it toward the hinge of the mussel shell.
On a cutting board, finely chop a bunch of parsley (you’re obtaining only their leaves).
In a large sauté pan, add one mashed garlic clove, a parsley stem, some chili pepper and brown over medium heat. Once browned, remove the garlic, the parsley stem as well as the chili pepper. Pour in your clams and cover with a lid on high heat so that they open. Once opened, blend with one glass of white wine. Once the alcoholic part has evaporated, remove the clams from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, which now has a simmering sauce (that you need to taste to see if there is some leftover sand; in that case filter the sauce with a kitchen towel), add your fresh mussels, cover with a lid and let them open. Once opened, let them cook for 1 minute then remove from the pan with the help of a skimmer. Save the sauce and set aside.
In a large sauté pan, drizzle some EVOO and add one mashed garlic clove and a parsley stem. Once browned, remove the garlic and the parsley stem, then add the chopped cherry tomatoes, the calamari rings, the cleaned shrimp and toss over medium heat. Season with a pinch of salt, and slightly cook them for 2 minutes, then remove the fresh seafood and set aside in a bowl. Add 2 ladles of fish stock to the pan with the cherry tomatoes (make sure you filter the fish stock before adding). Let simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the burner off.
Remove the mussels and the clam shells (just half of them) and set aside.
Bring the pot of water back to a boil, add salt and add your linguine. Cook them for 2/3 of their cooking time indicated on the package. After that time, removethe pastafrom the cooking water (saving the water) and add the pasta to the pan with the tomato sauce. Add ladles of starchy cooking water and some mussel and clam sauce (adding 1 ladle at a time), and cook over high heat. After 2 minutes, pour in all of your fresh seafood and stir. Let the linguine absorb the sauce and flavor of the seafood (if too dry, add more of your fish stock). Turn the burner off and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.
Serve by plating the linguine on a dish or wide bowl, and garnishing with your fresh seafood.
This dish pairs perfectly with Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOP.