Seafood Pasta (Pasta di Frutti di Mare) | There is a little Italian restaurant nearby that OB and I like to go to on occasion. It’s a small little place, not fancy, but I love their food and they are BYOB. So, when we go, we always have a bottle of wine in tow.
Whenever I go to an Italian restaurant, I usually go for lasagna or pasta di frutti di mare, also known as seafood pasta. I love seafood pasta, specifically Italian seafood pasta recipes with shellfish. It’s what I like to refer to as an interactive dish, but every once in a while, I love to get my hands dirty.
I have tried many times to eat seafood spaghetti like a lady but it’s not as fun. I enjoy the process of pulling shells apart and sucking the briny sauce from the shell. Half of the fun of eating shellfish is using your hands, right!? I’m not the only one making a mess of myself?
But now you don’t have to leave home. I will show you how to cook Italian seafood spaghetti in your jammies, if you wish! Or I love to prepare a dish like this for guests. This is one of those recipes that looks beautiful and impressive but is surprisingly easy to prepare. It has an element of the dramatic with a minimal amount of effort for such a result. Your guests will “Ooh and Ahh,” and you’ll be looking as cool as a cucumber.
How to Make Seafood Pasta
Start with a big pot of water boiling on high heat, cooking pasta until al dente according to directions on the package. (Or you can get crazy and make your own). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water to give a little oomph to the sauce later.
Crank up another burner to medium heat and heat oil and butter in large pot or skillet. Cook onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper, stirring often so your garlic doesn’t burn. When they’re tender and the kitchen smells amazing, add wine and let the sauce simmer until reduced by half.
Now it’s time to add tomato paste, grape tomatoes, clam juice, and pasta water. When those are combined, add salt and pepper to taste. Then incorporate your clams, mussels, and shrimp into the tomato sauce and cover.
Remove the shrimp to a separate plate when they’ve turned pink and curled, cooking the rest until the clams and mussels open. If any of them don’t open, throw them out. After removing the cooked seafood, bring the remaining sauce to a simmer until it thickens.
Toss the lovely sauce with your pasta plus some fresh parsley. Then add shrimp and other seafood to reheat in the warm noodles. Torn basil leaves and shaved pecorino make a great garnish, and dinner is ready!
If you haven’t cooked much fresh seafood, I got you. Don’t let that keep you from making this beautiful, flavorful dish another minute!
How do you prepare mussels?
Place the mussels in a colander in the sink and run under cold water, brushing the shells and removing any debris. Next, check the mussels for any hair-like fibers. Grab the fibers with your thumb and forefinger and tug toward the hinge of the mussel.
How to check mussels are alive
After rinsing the mussels, remove any that have a broken shell. If the mussel is open, tap it on the side of the bowl. If the mussel does not close, discard it. This Epicurious article has more great tips if you want to approach mussels with confidence.
How to pick fresh shellfish
- Smell the shellfish. It should have a clean ocean smell. Avoid any shellfish that smells overly fishy. Run away from anything that has an ammonia smell.
- Shellfish should have a bright, clean color.
- Ask the fishmonger about the catch or harvest day. The fresher the better. It’s best to buy fish that was caught that day or the previous day.
Seafood doesn’t have to be intimidating, and is much more cost effective to prepare at home. Some of my favorite recipes are my Shrimp Harissa Skillet, these perfect weeknight Herbed Tilapia and Vegetable Foil Packets, and the always tasty Cedar Plank Salmon with Herb Yogurt. A seafood boil like this one from Dinner at the Zoo or a giant pot of Foodie with Family’s cioppino stew are great choices for feeding a crowd.
But today, for me, it all comes down to this pasta di frutti di mare.
Seafood Pasta (Pasta di Frutti di Mare) Recipe
1 pound long noodle pasta (like bucatini, linguine, angel hair pasta, or spaghetti)
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup clam juice
1 lb small neck clams
1 lb mussels
1 lb jumbo shrimp
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
4 – 5 large basil leaves
shaved pecorino romano or parmesan
For this simple seafood pasta recipe, I used bucatini pasta which is a long, hollow pasta. This is one of my favorite kinds of pasta because it’s a long noodle that holds the sauce.
If you can’t find bucatini you can use any long noodle pasta like linguine, fettuccini, spaghetti, or pappardelle. Or save a trip to the store and make your own!
It’s the perfect dish for company, except maybe if you’re on a first date. Disclaimer: It involves glorious, saucy, messy noodles and a lot of man-handling of shellfish. For first-date alternatives, my Roasted Tomato and Vegetable Pasta Sauce and Pappardelle are much safer bets.
more pasta love
- grilled peach & bacon pasta salad with herb vinaigrette
- lemon broccoli pasta skillet
- blt pasta salad with avocado
- mediterranean pasta
Seafood Pasta (Pasta di Frutti di Mare)
A saucy seafood pasta with tons of flavor and a little spice. I love to use bucatini pasta with this dish. Bucatini pasta is a long noodle pasta that is hollow in the center. The pasta holds the sauce making sure you get a bit with every bite.
- 1 pound long noodle pasta (like bucatini, linguine or spaghetti)
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup clam juice
- 1 pound small neck clams
- 1 pound muscles
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 4 - 5 large basil leaves
- shaved pecorino romano or parmesan
- Prepare pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Toss pasta with olive oil and set aside.
- Heat a large heavy bottom deep skillet over medium heat. Melt butter and olive oil to the skillet. Add onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper, saute until tender and fragrant, about 4 minutes, stirring being careful not to allow the garlic to burn. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, grape tomatoes, clam juice, and pasta water, stir until well combined. Add clams, muscles, and shrimp, toss with sauce and cover. When the shrimp is pink and curled set them aside. Cook the until clams and muscles open, about 4 minutes, setting them aside as they open. Discard any unopen shells.
- Once all seafood has cooked bring the remaining sauce to a simmer to thicken if need. Add pasta and parsley to the sauce and toss. Add seafood to pasta to reheat.
- Serve pasta garnished with torn basil leaves and shaved pecorino.
I chose to use the whole head-on shrimp but you can use cleaned jumbo shrimp.
Al Smith says
I love this recipe! I learned to cook working in Seattle restaurants in the early 80’s. I’ve not encountered such a satisfying recipe in a long time. I added a few scallops but nothing more. Thank you!
Jennifer Pena says
This was DELICIOUS! It tasted just like something from a restaurant but from the comfort of home. I made it twice. Followed your recipe to the T the first time and it was wonderful. Made it again but used a big bag of seafood from Sam’s Club and it was still awesome. The hubby is happy and rubbing his tummy. The only thing I would recommend is a bib lol!
Cassie Sue says
I made this, it was good but I did not need a cup of pasta water and really regretted adding it. It watered down what would’ve been a great sauce.
I am sorry to hear that, thank you for the note and I will specify that the pasta water is optional if sauce is too thick.