Pasta Pescatore

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Pasta Pescatore, often referred to as fisherman’s spaghetti, is a wonderfully simple yet impressive pasta dish that offers ample room for personalization. Customize it to your liking and make it uniquely yours!

Here, we’ve combined clams, mussels, and large pink shrimp. However, you can easily include calamari, diver scallops, lobster, or slices of your preferred fish. What’s more, it’s incredibly convenient to assemble after a long day, cooks in a single pot (excluding the pasta), and is ready in just about 40-minutes from start to finish.

Pasta Pescatore ready to be served.

When incorporating clams and mussels into your dish, it’s crucial to purge them of sand. These shellfish typically dwell in sandy and gravelly environments, where they naturally accumulate sand, grit, and dirt. Due to their tendency not to fully close their shells, purging them before cooking is necessary to ensure a clean and enjoyable meal.

Purging Clams and Mussels: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Inspect: Examine the clams and mussels carefully, discarding any with cracked or open shells.

  2. Rinse: Place the clams and mussels in a colander or large bowl under cold running water. Rinse them thoroughly to remove any surface debris.

  3. Soak: Submerge the clams and mussels in a large container filled with cold water. Ensure that the water completely covers them.

  4. Add Salt: Sprinkle a generous amount of salt into the water. The salt helps to encourage the shellfish to expel any sand or grit they may have accumulated.

  5. Let Sit: Allow the clams and mussels to soak in the saltwater solution for 20-30 minutes. This gives them time to purge any sand or grit from their shells.

  6. Agitate: Gently agitate the container occasionally during the soaking process. This helps to dislodge any stubborn debris from the shells.

  7. Drain: After the soaking period is complete, drain the water from the container. Use a colander or sieve to ensure that all the sand and grit are removed along with the water.

  8. Rinse Again: Rinse the clams and mussels once more under cold running water to wash away any remaining salt or debris.

  9. Final Check: Inspect the clams and mussels one last time, discarding any that are still open or have damaged shells.

  10. Ready to Use: Your clams and mussels are now purged and ready to be cooked according to your recipe. Enjoy!

Chef's Tip for Purging Clams and Mussels:

For an alternative method, you can leave the clams and mussels in a large quantity of water overnight, adding 1/3 cup of sea salt. We’ve relied on this technique for years, and it consistently yields excellent results. After the overnight soak, lift the clams and mussels out of the water and give them a thorough rinse. Be cautious not to pour out the soak water along with the clams and mussels all at once, as this could lead to broken shells and reintroduction of purged sand into the mollusks.

  • Before adding to the sauce, you’ll want to scrub each of the clams and mussels with a stiff brush, to remove excess grit and/or barnacles.
  • If you notice any mussels with a protruding hairy beard (though most come debearded), it’s necessary to remove it using a sharp knife

Bowl of Pasta Pescatore served up with a sweet slow roasted tomato.

Storing Bivalves: Comprehensive Guide

  1. Fresh Purchase Inspection: Upon purchasing bivalves (such as clams and mussels), inspect them to ensure they are fresh. Look for intact shells that are tightly closed or close when tapped. Discard any bivalves with cracked or open shells.

  2. Refrigeration: Store fresh bivalves in the refrigerator immediately after purchase. Place them in a perforated plastic bag or a container covered with a damp cloth or paper towel to maintain moisture.

  3. Temperature: Keep the refrigerator temperature between 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C) to prevent bacterial growth and maintain freshness.

  4. Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation by not sealing the container too tightly. Bivalves need to breathe, so avoid airtight containers.

  5. Moisture Control: Avoid storing bivalves directly on ice or submerged in water, as this can suffocate them. Instead, store them in a container with a damp cloth or paper towel to keep them moist.

  6. Shelf Life: Consume bivalves as soon as possible for the best flavor and quality. They are highly perishable and should ideally be consumed within 1-2 days of purchase.

  7. Discard Unusable: Discard any bivalves that do not close when tapped or remain open after cooking, as they may be unsafe to eat.

  8. Cooking: Cook bivalves promptly after purchase to enjoy them at their freshest. Follow proper cooking methods to ensure safety and optimal flavor.

By following these steps, you can properly store bivalves to maintain their freshness and quality until you’re ready to enjoy them.

Choosing the Best Tomatoes for Pasta Sauce: A Detailed Guide

  1. San Marzano Tomatoes: These Italian plum tomatoes are highly prized for their sweet flavor, low acidity, and dense texture. They are often considered the gold standard for making pasta sauce due to their rich flavor and minimal seed content.

  2. Roma Tomatoes: Also known as plum tomatoes, Roma tomatoes are meaty with fewer seeds and less juice compared to other varieties. They have a slightly tangy flavor and are excellent for thick and hearty pasta sauces.

  3. Canned Whole Tomatoes: Quality canned whole tomatoes, especially those labeled as San Marzano or Italian-style, can be an excellent choice for making pasta sauce. Look for cans with minimal added ingredients, such as salt and citric acid.

  4. Heirloom Tomatoes: These tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, each offering unique flavors and textures. While they may not be as consistent as other varieties, heirloom tomatoes can impart complex and nuanced flavors to pasta sauce.

  5. Plum Cherry Tomatoes: These small, elongated tomatoes are similar in flavor to Roma tomatoes but with a slightly sweeter taste. They are ideal for pasta sauces that require a burst of sweetness and freshness.

  6. Campari Tomatoes: Campari tomatoes are medium-sized, round tomatoes known for their sweet and juicy flesh. While they may be more commonly used in salads, they can also be used to add sweetness and acidity to pasta sauces.

  7. Homegrown or Farmer’s Market Varieties: Tomatoes grown in your own garden or purchased fresh from a farmer’s market can offer exceptional flavor and quality. Look for ripe, vine-ripened tomatoes with vibrant color and firm texture for the best results.

We used our Sweet Slow Roasted Tomatoes for this Pasta Pescatore Recipe, however, San Marzano tomatoes are our go-to tomato when we don’t have access to the best fresh tomatoes. Grown in the Campania region in rich soils they are superior and create a sweet deeply flavored sauce.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Sweet Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Selecting the Perfect Pasta for Pasta Pescatore

This dish is traditionally served over spaghetti, but you can adjust it and use your favorite pasta. Here we’ve served it over the top of our Egg Yolk Pasta rolled to thickness setting of 4 and then cut spaghetti style.

When preparing Pasta Pescatore, also known as fisherman’s spaghetti, choosing the right pasta is essential to complement the seafood and enhance the overall dish. Here are some of the best types of pasta to use:

  1. Spaghetti: Classic and versatile, spaghetti is a popular choice for Pasta Pescatore. Its long, thin strands provide the perfect base for capturing the flavors of the seafood and sauce.

  2. Linguine: Similar to spaghetti but slightly wider, linguine offers a more substantial bite and surface area for the sauce to cling to. It pairs exceptionally well with seafood and adds an elegant touch to the dish.

  3. Fettuccine: With its broad, flat shape, fettuccine provides a hearty foundation for Pasta Pescatore. The wide noodles are ideal for holding chunky pieces of seafood and soaking up the rich flavors of the sauce.

  4. Tagliatelle: Tagliatelle is another excellent choice for Pasta Pescatore. Its long, ribbon-like strands have a slightly thicker texture compared to spaghetti, making it ideal for hearty seafood sauces.

  5. Pappardelle: For a truly indulgent twist on Pasta Pescatore, consider using pappardelle. These wide, flat noodles are perfect for showcasing large chunks of seafood and absorbing the delicious sauce.

  6. Short Pasta Shapes: While long, strand-like pastas are traditional for Pasta Pescatore, you can also experiment with short pasta shapes such as penne, rigatoni, or fusilli. These shapes can add a playful element to the dish and provide pockets for trapping the seafood and sauce.

Pasta Pescatore in a large white bowl ready to be served.
Close up of Pasta Pescatore.

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Bowl of Pasta Pescatore served up with a sweet slow roasted tomato.

How to Make Pasta Pescatore

Pasta Pescatore in a large clay pot with mussels, clams and shrimp.

Pasta Pescatore

Pasta Pescatore, also known as the fisherman's spaghetti. A fabulously easy and showy pasta dish that you can tailor to the seafood you love, make it your own!
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Purge Clams and Mussels overnight (if using): 8 hours
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Purge Clams and Mussels overnight (if using): 8 hours
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tin (56 grams) anchovy fillets finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed + diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional or to taste
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) Kalamata olives, pitted + sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup (45 grams) capers, drained
  • 1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, or 28 ounces Sweet Slow Roasted Tomatoes see recipe above
  • 1/2 pound (225 grams) spaghetti, reserve 1 cup of pasta water after cooking
  • 1 cup (240 ml) reserved pasta water
  • 12 Cherrystone Clams (sometimes labeled as neck clams) purged + scrubbed
  • 12 mussels purged + scrubbed
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled + deveined
  • Grana Padano cheese, for garnish
  • fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium-high heat, pour in the olive oil and reheat for 30 seconds, then add the anchovy fillets and garlic and saute for 1 minute.
    Garlic and anchovy fillets cooking for Pasta Pescatore.
  • Toss in the red pepper flakes, olives and capers, cook stirring for 3 minutes.
    Kalamata olives and capers being added to the saucepan for Pescatore.
  • Add in the tomatoes and break up with a flat bottomed wooden spoon reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. While the sauce is simmering bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta till al dente, reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside, drain pasta and toss back into the empty pot splash with olive oil, stir and set aside.
    Whole Sweet slow roasted tomatoes added to Pescatore Sauce in the making.
  • Add the clams cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes.
    Ingredients cooking for Pasta Pescatore.
  • Then were going to drop in the mussels and shrimp, stir, cover and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
    Shrimp being added to Pasta Pescatore.
  • Uncover and discard any clams and mussels that haven't opened. Pile pasta onto plates and ladle sauce over the top with plenty of seafood for each guest. Garnish with Grana Padano and fresh basil, serve with crusty bread and a salad if desired.
    Bowl of Pasta Pescatore garnished with a sweet slow roasted tomato and fresh basil.

Notes

  • Prep time is approximate.
  • Be sure to purge clams and mussels if using (see directions above).
  • Best eaten immediately. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Creative Recipe Inspiration

Indulge in the tantalizing flavors of the sea with our exquisite Pasta Pescatore. This seafood pasta dish boasts a delightful medley of fresh seafood, aromatic herbs, and zesty tomato sauce, creating a culinary experience that is both elegant and satisfying.

Indulge in the vibrant flavors of our Restaurant-Style Salsa, meticulously crafted for an authentic taste sensation. Bursting with the freshest ingredients and simmered to perfection, this salsa is the perfect accompaniment to your favorite chips or as a zesty topping for tacos and nachos.

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    1. You’re really a MEAN CHEF! Every recipe you post, makes me salivate….every time! Why don’t you have a show yet? You’re authentic and your recipes are something we can relate to and make at home. Wow! Just wow! I’m your avid fan here in Canada….
      This recipe once again is drool worthy. I can make this at home esp that I’m a pescatarian. Now, I don’t have to make boring food all the time 🙂

      1. Wow, Jane, thank you so much I’m printing this out and framing it! lol Seriously thank you, kitchen badassary is a skill that I hope to impart on anyone who is interested in honing new (and easy for the most part) skills! We’re so glad YOU are a part of our kitchen! 🙂

    2. Oh my goodness! This recipe sounds divine. I love seafood and that you can use whatever seafood you like. Thanks for the tips on dealing with clams and mussels. I avoid cooking with them, mostly because I don’t know what I’m doing. lol

      1. Lol, Colleen so glad that the tips were helpful! It’s always nice to have a recipe that you can interchange ingredients and still have a great dish, thanks for checking it out! 😋

    3. Oh my, this looks delicious. I’m in for anything that involves seafood.

      1. Thanks so much, Erika! Seafood always makes for a delicious meal 🙂

    5 from 2 votes

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