Now this is truly a difficult thing for me to wrap my head around, people. Rather astonishing and absurdly improbable. But one day last week I woke up and it was my 43rd wedding anniversary. How does this even happen?!? I’m still coming to grips with being 43 years old. I’ve got some catching up to do on this, obviously. I mean, I’ve now been married longer than I think I’ve actually been alive. Some serious reality therapy may be in order here. I’ll see to that, I promise.
In the meantime… yay Us!! We’ve been married for 43 years (here’s a little more about that), and I think that’s sort of awesome. Of course, I will admit that it’s not really all that hard to be married this long when your partner has the patience of a saint (I mean one of those really saintly saints) and makes you feel like a million bucks, does the dishes and loves everything you cook and is adorably handsome and makes you laugh and can dance like a duck, and well, you get the idea…. he’s sort of great. But still. We’re talkin 43 years.
And what does any of that have to do with this grilled seafood pasta? Since you asked, I will tell you that I adore seafood pasta. Very much. When it’s done well, that is, and that, my friends, is a very difficult thing to find. Most restaurants don't even bother, and when they do, it's most often disappointing. Please, no alfredo sauce or 2 lbs of butter or insipidly limp angel hair pasta or tomatoes. It must taste fresh and flavorful and robust and herbaceous and of the sea.
So I’ve given up going out to dinner on our anniversary and have taken matters into my own hands. It all started 10 years ago on our 33rd and has now become a yearly tradition. Every anniversary, instead of eating out, we blow the wad on luscious, fresh seafood, a splurgy bottle of wine, fire up the grill and have ourselves a celebratory feast. And what a feast it is! There’s something so incredible about the smoky, charred flavors of the seafood combined with the sort of creamy, herby fettuccine. Simply divine. And it really isn’t hard to throw together.
You can actually make up the pasta part of this however you want (but no tomatoes, please); just a little olive oil, some goat cheese and herbs would do the job. I never make it the same way twice, the only constant being the grilled seafood, although that varies in type from year to year. This year it was swordfish, scallops, cod and shrimp. Some years I add lobster. Never a lovelier combo to be had, except that next time I might throw in some calamari.
No need to wait for a celebratory event to make yourself some seafood pasta; this is summer fare at its finest, folks. Here’s the recipe…
Grilled Seafood Pasta
2 lbs (or more) of fresh seafood of your choice (swordfish, cod, scallops, halibut, lobster, shrimp (peeled and deveined), calamari, langostinos, clams, etc.)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons of Tuscan Herb Salt (or substitute with a combination of rosemary, sage, oregano, salt and pepper)
¾ lb fresh fettuccine or linguini
1 cup white wine
1 cup of bottled clam juice (more as needed)
2 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 oz fresh goat cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Place the seafood into a zip top bag with the marinade ingredients and refrigerate for a couple of hours before grilling.
If using a charcoal grill (which is our preference), get it lit so it can heat up while you make the pasta. You will need a medium high flame. Make sure your grill is clean and well-oiled.
Cook the pasta one minute less than the package instructions. Reserve a cup or so of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta. Do not rinse the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, heat a good amount of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the shallots and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add the chopped garlic and continue to sauté another 2 minutes.
Add wine and simmer for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until it’s reduced just a bit. Add the clam juice and the goat cheese and a small handful of the fresh herbs. Stir to melt the goat cheese into the sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked pasta, stirring to combine it with the sauce, cover the pan, remove from the heat and set aside to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce while you grill the fish.
Once your grill has reached a medium high temperature, take the seafood out of the marinade and place in on the grill. The swordfish will take 4 or 5 minutes per side, and the cod, less than that. Shrimp and scallops only take a couple of minutes per side.
Once your seafood is cooked, remove it from the grill and cut the fish into large-ish pieces, keeping the shrimp and scallops whole.
Add the seafood into the pan with the pasta, turning the burner on low if it needs heating. Stir to combine, adding a little of the pasta cooking water if the sauce has gotten too thick.
Turn the pasta out into a large serving bowl to place on the table. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped herbs and serve with grated parmesan cheese if you so desire, which is a no-no, but we do it anyway.