We hosted a little gathering at our house last night for football and Sunday dinner, and naturally I went all out. I made a veggie flatbread app, this whole dinner, plus coffee ice cream and salted chocolate mocha cookies for dessert. Few things make me happier than spending an entire day in the kitchen.
I was in Philadelphia on Saturday for a surprise birthday party for my friend Ange, and I was discussing my menu plans with the girls. I said “My friend Toni Ann is pescatarian so I want to make something with seafood.”
Tori gave me an odd look and I thought perhaps she expected me to have a whole list of fish-forward recipes already up my sleeve.
She said “They can’t eat meat on Sundays?”
“I don’t know any Presbyterians.”
So here’s a recipe for all your friends, regardless of religion or meat-eating views.
Unless they’re vegan, in which case you can leave out the seafood and just make the sauce! I’m here for everyone.
1 1/2-2 pounds pasta (homemade or boxed. I doubled my homemade recipe and had some leftovers but that’s always better than running out!)
2 cans San Marzano tomatoes
2 small yellow onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbs crushed red pepper flakes*
1 lb scallops
small bag mussels
small bag uncooked shrimp
butter, olive oil, salt & pepper
*I actually used a full tablespoon and found it to be pretty spicy, so you may want to start with half and go from there. It’s meant to be a spicy sauce but in the theme of inclusivity, take it slow.
You can find mussels in the seafood section in mesh bags. They’re really cheap and super easy to cook and clean. You’ll want to discard any that are already opened. Rinse the others, and you may have to remove the “beard” which looks like a little seaweed hanging out of the shell. Just yank it.
I bought frozen shrimp that were already peeled and deveined but you can buy whatever uncooked shrimp looks best. Just make sure to thaw out completely prior to cooking.
To start the sauce, pour about 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and stir until fragrant, but without burning the garlic. Add the sliced onions and cook down for another 5 minutes or so.
Add the full San Marzano tomatoes, using a wooden spoon to press them up against the edge of the pan to break them up. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes just to blend all the flavors. This is not a long cooking sauce, though. That’s why we’re splurging on the good tomatoes.
I ended up deciding to use my immersion blender here because I had made fettuccine noodles and was adding seafood. If you’re just doing arrabbiata sans seafood, you can keep the sauce at a chunkier consistency. And it would be really good with any short cut pasta.
Add the mussels and shrimp and stir to make sure they’re all nicely dunked in sauce, then turn off the heat and cover the pan. They’ll cook in the hot sauce! Any mussels that stay closed should be tossed.
In a separate skillet, sear the scallops (seasoned with salt and pepper) on both sides over low heat with butter. I don’t recommend cooking the scallops in the sauce because they’re best when they have a nice sear on either side. Plus they’re pricy, so you want to make sure that each guest gets a few on their plate.
If you’re doing homemade pasta you can also drop that during the searing because it takes about 2 minutes to cook. Boxed pasta should be started a little bit earlier.
I’m getting pretty adept at this homemade pasta thing. If you have the attachment and haven’t tried it yet, the trick I’ve learned is flour flour and more flour. You can’t add too much and the worst thing is to have it stick together, so keep dusting flour with every push through the pasta roller. Also keeping it refrigerated in between steps will help prevent sticking. I made all of this a few hours before they came over so that I could clean my kitchen, and just kept it in the fridge until it was time to cook it.
You can toss the pasta in with the sauce and then top the whole thing with scallops for a beautiful presentation. Naturally I didn’t do it this way or even photograph how I presented it, because I’m an excellent food blogger. But here’s my plate.
It was REALLY good and I served it with a simple arugula salad. Bread would have been a nice touch but the bread at Harris Teeter yesterday morning looked like garbage. Must move closer to a Wegmans ASAP.
You can also sub any of the seafood for other things you like. If you’re not a fan of mussels, add some chunks of any sturdy white fish, clams, squid, whatever. The sauce is pretty light and the spice works really well with seafood. Impress your friends!
Or you can invite me over and I’ll cook all day in your kitchen and let you take the credit. Should this be my new career path?