Recipes

Seafood Pasta Bake

Hurray! This is the new pasta dish I’ve been looking for.

A couple weeks ago, I picked up a bag of frozen seafood blend from Trader Joe’s for about $6. With bay scallops, shrimp & calamari, I figured there was something tasty I could find to do with it. Figuring that something might involve pasta, I also grabbed a can of organic diced tomatoes and linguine … but my ingredients never developed into a plan, and the stuff sat in the fridge. Until I stumbled upon this easy seafood pasta recipe by the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. This baked dish is so flavorful and comes together quickly, since you start it on the stovetop and then bake it for just 15 minutes! I made it for Sunday night dinner before Mark had to dash off to tech rehearsal for the show he’s opening this week, and it kept him satisfied through hours of work.  And for seafood that came out of the freezer aisle, the taste was incredibly fresh. This one’s definitely going into our regular meal rotation.

Directions

Set on a large pot of covered water, unsalted, to boil.

While the water is heating up to boiling, melt a tablespoon of butter and a dash of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Toss the frozen seafood (I thawed mine a bit for a couple hours in the fridge) into the skillet once the oil and butter have melted together, and saute the fish for a few minutes until just warm and translucent. If there’s too much liquid in the pan, scoop a bit out and reserve in a measuring cup. You want the seafood to get browned a bit, and depending on how frozen they are when you saute them, they may let off too much liquid (they did to me). But don’t throw out that spare fluid! It’ll come in handy later.

You want to undercook the pasta a bit since it’ll be baked some more in the oven, so keep that in mind after you toss it in the boiling water.

Once the seafood is browned a bit, remove it from the heat and set aside. If you haven’t drained the extra liquid off, then set the seafood aside on a plate WITHOUT a paper towel so you can reserve the juices. If, like me, you’ve already poured off the juices, then set the seafood aside on a paper towel.

Turn the heat down in the skillet and add 3-4 diced garlic cloves to the pan with a bit of olive oil. Don’t let the garlic burn.

Then, add a dash of white wine to the pan and deglaze it, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Cook, stirring, until the wine reduces and a thin sauce starts to come together. Again, don’t let the garlic burn.

Then, add the can of diced organic tomatoes and a couple spoons full of capers to the pan, stirring. (The original recipe did NOT call for capers, but I love them, and I think they add a certain saltiness that pairs well with seafood. You could also add Kalamata olives; the only reason I didn’t is because Mark dislikes them).

Stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Take care to salt and pepper it generously. I also added a teeny dash of red pepper flakes.

Meanwhile, prepare a casserole dish for baking. Doubling up on foil, you want to line the dish with enough overlap that you can fold the edges over the entire thing, like you would when baking in foil over a campfire. These little packets are going to blend all the flavors together and make the dish really harmonious!

Next, pre-heat your oven to 350.

When the pasta is nearly done — you want it a little firmer than Al Dente, because it’ll continue cooking in the oven — drain it and lay it in the casserole dish. A little cooking liquid is OK; if they’re on the slippery side when they go in the dish, the linguine will have just the right amount of moisture to bake well.

Pour the cooked tomato mixture on top of the pasta, then top with the reserved seafood pieces. If the whole thing feels or looks a bit dry, pour some of that reserved cooking liquid (remember the butter and olive oil I had you set aside when the seafood was sauteeing?) on top before you put it in the oven.

Then, fold up the edges to completely encase the food and seal it off so it blends together nicely in the oven. You don’t therefore need a lid on your baking dish.

When it comes out, just unwrap it……

And voila!

If I had any fresh basil on hand, I would have topped this with some basil leaves. Otherwise I can’t imagine this tasting any better. Enjoy!

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