What happens when you find yourself waking up, night after night, still dreaming of the chewy, homemade pasta and briny, freshly-caught seafood you had on your dream vacation to the Amalfi Coast?
Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog Challenge #2 was to whip up another culture’s classic dish that would take you outside your culinary comfort zone to make. Always willing to take on a challenge, I scoured the city yesterday afternoon, hunting for the freshest seafood I could get my paws on.
My mission? To recreate my favorite dish from our entire Italian vacation. The dish that’s on every restaurant and household menu in the tiny, Mediterranean coastal town of Praiano, Italy, where we stayed. The dish that makes my mouth water and my taste buds sing – Pasta allo Scoglio. Seafood pasta, baby!
FYI, I live in the Midwest where we grow corn so sweet they turn it into ice cream and pork’s so abundant they practically give it away. What we DON’T have, you see, is readily available, super-fresh seafood. Ie, my experience cooking with exotic seafood is zip. Zilch. Nada!
Wanting to try and make the dish as authentic as possible, and take myself even further outside my comfort zone, I did what every Italian woman would do – I made my own pasta. You guys – it is SO much easier than I ever thought. Seriously! Check it out…
Yield: 6 servings of 1/4 inch wide noodles.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
1. Place flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
2. Add eggs, extra virgin olive oil and salt into the well.
3. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually adding more and more flour, until the mixture is too thick to stir anymore.
4. With clean hands, knead the dough until it comes together into a rough ball, then turn it out onto a flat, floured surface.
5. Continue to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, or until it turns into a smooth, elastic ball. Add more flour to the board when necessary, to prevent sticking.
Remember to have fun!
6. Cut the dough into thirds, then lightly flour the cutting board and a rolling pin.
7. Roll the dough out, adding more flour when necessary, until it’s 1/8 inch thick.
8. Smooth a tiny bit of flour over each side of the dough and roll up into a cigar shape.
9. With a sharp knife, cut dough into desired noodle thickness.
10. Roll noodles out and lay flat. Cook immediately in salted boiling water until the noodles rise to the top, ~1-2 minutes, or store in a tupperware container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can freeze any leftover noodles, too!
Ok. Pasta? Check! Now for the seafood portion of the program. (Insert "eek!" here…)
I was lucky enough to find the most of the same delicacies that were in my Pasta allo Scoglio in Italy, here in town. We’ve got sea scallops,
little neck clams,
squid tubes (aka calamari,)
Can I just tell you incredibly odd it is to hold something in your hand knowing that it’s alive, and you’re about to cook it?! Ie, cleaning the mussels and clams was seriously. freaky!
I pushed all thoughts aside, laid out my seafood, heated up the stove, and got to work…
Pasta allo Scoglio
Based on a recipe from Bacco Ristorante. Yield: 1 serving.
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sea scallops
2 large, peeled & deveined shrimp
4 little neck clams, scrubbed
4 mussels, scrubbed
1 squid tube, cut into rings
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup marinara sauce
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. About 30 seconds.
2. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add scallops to the pan. Sear on one side until golden brown. Flip and add the rest of the seafood.
3. Cook seafood for 30 seconds, then add white wine and marinara sauce. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the clams & mussels have opened. NOTE: Do not try to pry open and eat the clams or mussels that do not open. They are inedible.
4. Push the seafood to one side of the pan and add a serving of homemade pasta, cooked until it’s a little underdone, to the empty side of the pan. Allow the pasta to continue cooking in the sauce until it’s cooked through.
5. Serve immediately, topped with chopped parsley.
Omg, it freaking worked!!
The scallops tasted ocean-fresh, the squid was tender, the pasta actually tasted like real pasta, and the mussels opened!! Ok…the clams didn’t. You can’t win ‘em all, I guess.
The sauce was so complimentary too. Really light and definitely not overpowering the taste of the fresh seafood.
The wonderful thing about Italian cooking is that, while it may seem intimidating, the ingredients are fresh and uncomplicated. The whole thing, not counting making the pasta, took me less than 10 minutes to create. Score!
Comfort zone = re-zoned. Mission = accomplished!
Have a great night you guys!
What foods are you intimidated to cook with?