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Reef Spaghetti - Spaghetti allo Scoglio

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Reef spaghetti, or spaghetti allo scoglio, is the classic seafood pasta made with all sorts of crustaceans and shellfish. It's very popular, especially in festive occasions. Exactly what goes into it depends upon what's available at the fishmonger's, but here's a suggestion.

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds (500 g) fresh live clams
  • 1 1/4 pounds (500 g) fresh mussels
  • 12 ounces (300 g) shelled shrimp tails (you can also use other crustaceans, or a mixture of crustaceans)
  • 2-3 ripe plum tomatoes
  • A bunch parsley
  • Basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • A shredded hot pepper (optional)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3/4 pound (350 g) spaghetti

Preparation:

Scrub the shells of the clams and mussels. Shell the shrimp tails. Salt a pot of water for the spaghetti and set it to boil. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a broad skillet, with a crushed clove of garlic. When the garlic has browned, remove it and discard it, then add the clams and mussels. Cover and cook over a brisk flame, shaking the pan every now and then, until the shellfish have opened. Turn off the flame and let them cool slightly, then remove and discard the shells of some of them (but not all -- NOTE: do not try to open any that failed to open when heated. Discard them; they were already dead and eating them could make you quite sick.).

While doing this make sure the clam broth remains in the skillet. Next, finely mince a second clove of garlic and sauté it in 3 tablespoons of oil, in a broad skillet. When it has turned light gold, slice the tomatoes directly into the pan. Shred six basil leaves into the pan too, a touch of salt, the hot pepper if you're using it, and simmer the sauce for ten minutes.

In the meantime strain the clam juices through a fine cloth. Once ten minutes is up, stir in all the shellfish and a half cup of the strained clam juice, and simmer for five minutes more.

While the sauce is simmering, add the remaining clam juice to the pasta water, which should be boiling by now, and cook the spaghetti. Transfer the cooked spaghetti to a bowl, dribble a couple of tablespoons of oil over them, add a turn of freshly ground pepper, about 20 parsley leaves (either whole or shredded) and toss. Stir in the sauce and serve at once, with a crisp white wine.

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