Seafood pasta sauces are known by different regional names all over the Italian coast, including “allo scoglio” (reef-style) and “alla pescatore” (fisherman-style). The more general name however is “ai frutti di mare” (with fruits of the sea”). “Spaghetti marinara” sounds so maritime we instantly think of pasta with seafood, however “marinara” refers to the mariners (or sailors) whose wives made a very simply sauce with tomato, garlic and fresh herbs when their husbands returned after months at sea and the last thing they wanted to eat was seafood.
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
500g Blue Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
500g Vongole, purged (see notes)
½ cup dry white wine
400g green Prawns, peeled, deveined, cut into bite-sized chunks
400g Squid, cleaned and cut into strips
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Toasted Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs (see notes)
1½ tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ lemon, zest grated
Make Toasted Seasoned Breadcrumbs: heat olive oil in a small frying pan, add breadcrumbs and stir over a medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool then stir through parsley and lemon zest.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add pasta, stir well and continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente.
Meanwhile heat half the olive oil in a frying pan, add onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat until onion softens. Increase heat and add Mussels, Vongole and wine. Stir and cover for a minute or 2, until shells start to open. As each shell opens, remove from the pan to a bowl. Pour cooking liquid into the bowl. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from most of the shells, setting a few aside in the shell for garnish; add the rest of the Vongole and Mussels to the bowl of cooking liquid.
Return pan to a medium heat, add remaining oil and, when hot, add Prawns and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add Squid and cook, stirring, for a further 30 seconds. Return Mussels, Vongole and cooking liquid to the pan. Cover and remove from heat until pasta is cooked.
Drain cooked pasta. Return frying pan to the heat, add pasta and parsley to the seafood and toss over a medium heat for a couple of minutes to mix well and until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Serve sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs and Vongole in the shell.
Vongole are usually sold ‘purged’ to remove sand and grit, however it’s still a good idea to place them in a large bowl of cool salted water and sea salt (30g salt per litre water) for several hours or overnight, at room temperature, to get rid of any remaining sand (if you refrigerate them they’ll close up and won’t ‘spit out’ the sand).
To make fresh breadcrumbs, pulse day-old bread in a food processor until finely crumbed. It’s a great way to use up stale bread and you can keep them in the freezer to use whenever breadcrumbs are required.
Pipis (instead of Vongole or Mussels), Cuttlefish, Octopus (instead of Squid).