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Perfect Fish & Seafood Pasta

There is nothing that evokes the memories of delicious sun-filled holidays more than chilled white wine and a bowl of perfect seafood pasta. This blog is designed to allow the recreation of those special memories at home. Some recipes are quicker than others and some molluscs or crustaceans can be as daunting as they are delicious, but the blog would not have been complete without the inclusion of these classics. With the help of a good fishmonger, you can master these in moments. The key to the success of these recipes is quality super-fresh ingredients.     Vongole (Clams) Spaghetti alle Vongole has to be high on the top-ten pasta dishes of all the time. Served with a chilled Pinot Grigio, it literally tasted like a holiday in a bowl. 700 g/¹/₂ lb. 'vongole' (fresh, live baby clams)* 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and thinly sliced a large handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 125 g/¹/₂ cup white wine salt and freshly ground black pepper   SERVE 2     Prepare your Vongole for cooking (see note). Ensure that you have everything prepped to cook the Vongole before you begin to cook the pasta. The pasta cooking time should be timed carefully to coincide with the sauce being ready.When ready, start to cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water. Meanwhile, heat a good glug of olive oil (enough to cover the whole base) in a large pan that has a lid. Add the sliced garlic. When the garlic begins to colour, turn up the heat and add the clams, chilli/chile and half the parsley. Cover with the lid.Cook for 5-7 minutes, shaking frequently to help the claims open up. Discard any clams that are still closed and splash the others with the white wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the rest of the chopped parsley and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. As  clams are salty by nature, taste the sauce before seasoning further. Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the vongole, add a splash of retained cooking water and toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. Serve immediately with plenty of extra ground black pepper. * NOTE Fresh clams should be cleaned well before cooking. Rinse them in several changes of cold water until the water is clear. Then add a handful of sea salt and leave to 'purge in cold salted water for a few hours. Drain and rinse before using. Discard any shells that are open and do not snap shut when tapped, as they are potentially dangerous.      Puttanesca I could not have a book about pasta without including slutty spaghetti. In the picture we have used chocolate-/cacao/flavoured pasta, with remarkably satisfying results.     3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and finely sliced, or ¹/₂ teaspoon dried chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes 200 g/¹/₄ cups cherry tomatoes, halved lengthways 2 tablespoons Taggiasche or Kalamata olives, drained, pitted and roughly chopped 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed 3 anchovy fillets a handful of basil leaves, torn, or flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (optional) freshly ground black pepper 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta 2 heaped tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve   SERVE 2   Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the garlic and chilli/chile. When the garlic begins to colour, stir in all the other ingredients apart from the pasta and season with black pepper (the olives, capers and anchovies will probably make it salty enough). Allow to simmer gently on a low heat for about 8-12 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down. If the tomatoes are too acidic, you can balance them with a pinch of sugar when you adjust the seasoning. While the sauce is simmering, add the pasta to the boiling salted water and cook according to the instructions on the packet. Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the sauce with a splash of the retained pasta cooking water. Toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. Serve immediately with the Parmigiano cheese and plenty of extra freshly ground black pepper.     Crab, Chilli/Chile & Lemon Second to the carbonara, this is the other most popular pasta served at Santini. I think this recipe is loved because it is light, clean, fresh and super tasty. 200 g/7 oz. cooked picked white crabmeat* a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed 2 garlic cloves, squashed, peeled and halved lengthways 1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and finely chopped 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta *You can use half white crabmeat and half brown for a fuller crab flavour.   SERVE 2   Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the remaining ingredients apart from the pasta in a bowl. This is a fairly loose sauce, therefore add extra olive oil if it is too dry, and season  with salt and black pepper.When the salted water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet.Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta back into the pan, add the crab mixture and a small splash of the retained pasta cooking water. Toss with gusto until creamy and well combined. Remove the halved garlic cloves and serve immediately. TASTY TOPPER diced avocado and mango       Shrimp & Chorizo Bring on the chilled rosé. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, squashed, peeled and halved lengthways 75 g/3 oz. chorizo picante, cut into bite-size rounds 1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded any thinly sliced ¹/₄ teaspoon dried chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes (options) 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta 150 g/5¹/₅ oz. raw king prawns/jumbo shrimp, peeled 115 g/1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered a handful of basil leaves, torn grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon a generous handful of rocket/arugula leaves, torn salt and freshly ground black pepper   SERVE 2       Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, to make the sauce heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan/skillet. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a few minutes to flavour the oil. When the garlic begins to colour, add the chorizo, chilli/chile and dried chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes (if using).When the salted water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet.When the chorizo is sizzling, throw in the prawns/shrimp, tomatoes, basil and lemon juice. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook over a high heat until the pns/shrimp turn from grey to pink and the tomatoes begin to soften but not disappear. Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the tomato, prawn/shrimp and chorizo sauce, adding a small splash of the retained pasta cooking water and the remaining olive oil, if necessary. Throw in the rocket/arugula leaves and toss with gusto over a high heat until the pata is well coated and creamy.Serve immediately with plenty of extra freshly ground black pepper.   Smoked Salmon Carbonara     Crispy lardons of smoked salmon replace traditional pancetta in this version of an uber-indulgent carbonara 3 very fresh egg yolks 50 g/2 oz. salmon caviar (optional) 60 g/¹/₂ stick butter 2 anchovy fillets 700-100 g/2¹/₂-3¹/₂ oz. smoked salmon, chopped into 'lardons'* 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta Freshly ground black pepper * If using salmon caviar, stick to 70 g/2¹/₂ oz. salmon   SERVE 2   Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and mix with the caviar, if using. Season with plenty of black pepper and set aside.Heat the butter and anchovy fillets in a frying pan/skilled. When the anchovies have melted, add the smoked salmon and fry until crispy. Set aside.When the salted water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet.Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the egg yolks, mix well and then tip into the salmon and butter mixture. Add a splash of cooking water (about 60 ml/¹/₄ cup) and toss with gusto off the heat until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. Note: for egg-based sauces such as this, it is important to add the eggs and toss off the heat, otherwise your eggs will scramble.Serve immediately. TASTY TOPPER roughly chopped dill   Scoglio 'Scoglio' means rocks, but in this context the word is used to describe rock pools on the seashore - the perfect place for crustaceans of all kinds to live. I like to think of this as 'seashore pasta'. The best dish ever. 200 g/7 oz. mussels, purged, scrubbed and beards removed 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, 1 squadshed, peeled and halved lengthways and 1 finely chopped ¹/₂ handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped 60 ml/¹/₄ cup dry white wine 1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and thinly sliced 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped 1 tablespoon tomato purée/paste 3-4 basil leaves, torn 1 teaspoon sugar (option) 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta 100 g/3¹/₂ oz. fresh squid, cleaned and cut in rings 100 g/3¹/₂ oz. raw king prawns/jumbo shrimp, peeled Salty freshly ground black pepper, to serve * If using salmon caviar, stick to 70 g/2¹/₂ oz. salmon   SERVE 2   Check the mussels by ensuring they are all closed. Discard any open ones. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the halved garlic clove.When the garlic begins to colour, add the mussels, half the parsley and the white wine. Cover with a lid. The heat will open the mussels. Once the mussels are all open, remove from the heat and leave to cool down. Once cool, retain the mussel stock and set aside.Remove the mussels from their shells and set aside. Discard the shells. Heat a further tablespoon of oil with the chopped garlic and sliced chilli/chile. When the garlic begins to colour, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée/paste, basil leaves and the retained stock from the mussels. You may need to add the teaspoon of sugar if the tomatoes are very acid to balance the flavours. Simmer uncovered on a low heat for around 10 minutes until the mussels stock has been absorbed and the sauce is no longer too runny. Meanwhile, start to cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water following the instructions on the packet.The pasta cooking should be timed carefully to coincide with the sauce begin ready. When the tomato sauce has been cooking for 10 minutes, add the squid and prawns/shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, add the mussels and remove from heat. Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cookin water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the sauce with a splash of the retained pasta cooking water, the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining parsley. Toss with gusto over a high heat until the pata looks creamy and well coated.Serve immediately with extra ground black pepper.       Lobster Another very popular dish at Santini, this is a pasta that most people choose to order in restaurants rather than cook at home. However, if you buy ready prepared lobster meat from your fishmonger, this dish is actually remarkably easy, and does not involve dealing with a live lobster which can be tricky. There is something very sexy about preparing spaghetti lobster for someone your heart flutters for. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 banana shallot, thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and finely chopped 1 large ripe tomato, chopped (San Marzano are the best) 5 basil leaves 125 ml¹/₂ cup white wine 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta 300 g/10¹/₂ oz. lobster meat, cooked and picked 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered a handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped salty freshly ground black pepper, to serve     SERVE 2   Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile,  to make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the shallot garlic and chilli/chile. When the garlic begins to colour, add the chopped tomato (not the cherry tomatoes), basil leaves and white wine. Season with salt and black pepper and leave to cook until the tomato starts to break down. When the salted water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet.When half of the wine has evaporated and the tomato is soft and the lobster meat. Heat through quickly (the longer it stays in the pan, the tougher it will become) and then remove from the heat.Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the lobster sauce with a splash of the retained pasta cooking water, the cherry tomatoes, parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss with gusto over a high heat until the pata looks creamy and well coated.Serve immediately with plenty of extra freshly ground black pepper.   Scallop & Crispy Prosciutto The key ingredient in this dish is not the scallops or the prosciutto as you might expect, but the tasty seed 'grattato'. This fresh, nutty, garlicky, lemony, cheesy mixture, really does complement the sweet scallops and the umami-packed prosciutto in an extraordinary way. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic clove, squashed, peeled and halved lengthways 6 scallops, preferably with coral, halved if large 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon 2 slices of Prosciutto di Parma, baked in the oven until crisp, then broken into shards FOR THE PUMPKIN SEED GRATTATO 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted a handful of flat leaf parsley grated zest of 2 lemon 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano salty freshly ground black pepper, to serve   SERVE 2   Start by making the pumpkin seed grattato. Place the toasted pumpkin seeds, parsley, lemon zest, Parmigiano cheese and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic halves in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the garlic begins to colour, add the scallops. Cook on a high heat, turning once, until the scallops are cooked through, about 5 minutes for a large scallops.When the scallops are cooked, season them with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. You want the scallops to be cooked through but not chewy. They should spring back when poked and not be hard to the touch. Set aside.Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the scallops. Add the lemon juice, a splash of the retained pasta cooking water, the pumpkin seed grattato and the rest of the oil. Toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta looks creamy and well coated.Serve immediately topped with the crispy Prosciutto di Parma and plenty of extra freshly ground black pepper.   'In Salsa' This typically Venetian pasta is served with bigoli, a thick, spaghetti-like pasta with a tiny hole through the centre. I don't have to tell you what a powerful combination the sweet onion and salty, umami-packed anchovies make. 3-4 tablespoons olive oil 2 large onions, thinly sliced 200 g/7 oz. anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained freshly ground black pepper 400 g/14 oz. dried pasta or 320 g/12 oz. fresh pasta finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve   SERVE 4   Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile,  to make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onions and cook until golden. Add the anchovies and black pepper, then stir until the anchovies have dissolved into the softened onions. When the salted water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet.Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the anchovy and onion sauce, adding a small splash of the retained pasta cooking water. Toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta is well coated and creamy.Serve immediately topped with the crispy Prosciutto di Parma and plenty of extra freshly ground black pepper.   Shrimp, Zucchini & Balsamico The addition of a splash of vinegar to courgette/zucchini cooked in this way is called 'al scapece', which is a term that signifies a sort of sweet-and-sour expectation. The sweet vegetables and prawns/shrimp work brilliantly with the drizzle of a syrupy aged balsamic vinegar.     4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, squashed, peeled and halved lengthways 150 g/5¹/₂ oz. courgettes/zucchini, sliced into 5-mm/4¹/₂-inch discs a small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped 125 g/4¹/₂ oz. Raw king prawns/jumbo shrimp, peeled 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta Grated zest of 1 lemon Salt and freshly ground black pepper Thick balsamic vinegar or glaze, to drizzle   SERVE 2   Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan/skillet. Toss in the garlic and cook, stirring, for a few minutes to flavour the oil.When the garlic begins to colour, add the courgettes/zucchini and half of the mint and stir fry. When the courgettes/zucchini begin to soften, but are still al dente, add the prawns/shrimp. Cook until the prawn/shrimp turn the pink, the season with salt and pepper and toss until the shrimp are cooked but still tender. Remove from the heat.When the salted water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the pasta packet.Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the courgette/zucchini and prawn/shrimp mixture, adding a small splash of the retained cookin water, the remaining mint, lemon zest and remaining oil. Toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta is well coated and creamy.Serve immediately topped with a generous drizzle of thick balsamic  vinegar or glaze and plenty of extra freshly ground black pepper.   Calamari & 'nduja 'Nduja is a spreadable Calabrian super spicy cured salame. Like bottarga and mojama, 'nduja is one of the new trendy ingredients used by modern chefs and available in speciality stores. It also comes in jars as an ambient product and has a long shelf-life. Italians also spread it on bread. If you keep these unique ingredients in your pantry, it can really make you look good when rustling up that unexpected pasta for guests. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, squashed, peeled and halved lengthways 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta 2-3 tablespoons 'nduja, to taste 300 g/10¹/₂ oz. squid, cleaned, washed and cut into rings A handful of basil leaves, torn, or flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped A generous handful of rocket/arugula, torn Grated zest of 1 lemon Salt and freshly ground black pepper   SERVE 2   Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan/skillet. Toss in the garlic and cook, stirring, for a few minutes to flavour the oil.When the salted water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the pasta packet.When the garlic begins to colour, add 1 tablespoon of the 'nduja and the squid rings. Season and sauté on a high heat 3-4 minutes until the squid is cooked but not rubbery. Remove from the heat, stir in the rest of the 'nduja paste and the basil leaves or parsley and set aside.Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the squid and 'nduja sauce, adding a small splash of the retained cookin water and a little more olive oil if necessary. Add the rocket/arugula and lemon zest and toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta is well coated and creamy. Serve immediately with plenty of extra freshly ground black pepper.   Fresh Tuna Ragú I am a big fan of seared fresh tuna, so I have taken the principles of a classic tuna ragú dish and deconstructed it to my taste. D e l i c i o u s ! 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, squashed, peeled and halved lengthways 4 anchovy fillets or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste ¹/₄ teaspoon dried chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes 1 onion, thinly sliced ¹/₂ tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed ¹/₂ tablespoon tomato purée/paste 150 ml/²/₃ cup white wine 450 g/scant 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 1 fresh red chilli/chile deseeded and sliced a handful of basil leaves, torn a large handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 1 teaspoon sugar 250 g/9 oz. sushi grade tuna, cut into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes salt and freshly ground black pepper   SERVE 2   Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the garlic slices, anchovies and dried chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes.When the garlic begins to colour and the anchovies have melted, add the onion and sauté until glassy and softened.Add the capers and tomato purée/paste and deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the tomatoes, chilli/chile, basil, parsley and sugar, and season with salt and black pepper. Stir well and leave to cook, half-covered, on a very, very low heat. Stir regularly to avoid the bottom catchin (add a splash of water to let the sauce down if it looks too thick).When the tomatoes have almost broken down and you have a rich sauce, check for seasoning, remove from the heat and set aside. Start to cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water. While your pasta is boiling, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil in a frying/skillet with the remaining squashed garlic halves. When the garlic begins to colour, add the tuna cubes, season with salt and black pepper and sear the top and bottom (two sides) on a high heat, but do not cook them right through. Remove from the heat, slice in half and set aside.Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the tomato sauce, add a small splash of the retained cookin water and the rest of olive oil. Toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta is well coated and creamy. Serve immediately topped with the seared tuna cubes and a little more freshly ground black pepper.