A classic, easy seafood pasta made using a seafood marinara mix: prawns / shrimp, calamari, fish and mussels tossed through a simple, tasty tomato sauce. Made properly, the real proper Italian way, this Seafood Spaghetti Marinara is dinner on the table in 20 minutes!
This recipe is dedicated to Bill and Pauline, the owners of a gorgeous young Golden Retriever called Lucy that Dozer plays with regularly at the beach.
When I say “dedicated”, I don’t mean any kind of heartfelt, deep and meaningful dedication. There is no sentiment behind this dedication.
It is just that I’ve now dictated this recipe to them three times while Dozer and Lucy were playing on the beach, and rather than continuing that weekly routine, I thought I’d just write the recipe out properly for them!!!
While a seafood pasta may sound fancy, in actual fact, this is super fast and easy to make. It really is dinner on the table in 20 minutes, if you can manage boiling the pasta while you make the (very easy) sauce.
I don’t want to show off, but it takes me 15 minutes. Should I do a video to prove it?? 😉
Mind you, I start with a pre-prepared seafood Marinara mix. Nowadays good seafood stores sell great quality marinara (the fish monger in Pittwater Place, for those in my area!), a good mix of small prawns/shrimp, pieces of fish, slices of calamari and shelled mussels. And it’s super great value too.
The key to the sauce for this pasta is searing the seafood first, then removing it before proceeding to make the pasta sauce. This way, the seafood is not overcooked, and also the sauce benefits from the residual flavour left in the pan after searing the seafood.
I like to make this sauce using tomato passata (pictured above) which is simply pureed plain tomatoes. It’s thicker and smooth, unlike canned crushed tomatoes, so it makes a lovely quick sauce. Nowadays, passata is sold in all major supermarkets here in Australia – in the pasta section – and it costs just a little more than canned tomatoes.
And the other important step for this recipe is emulsifying. It sounds fancy, but all it requires is cooking the pasta in the sauce with some pasta cooking water for a minute or two right before serving. This is a secret step mastered by all the Italian Nonna’s and proper restaurants around the world that makes all the difference. It’s magic because it thickens the sauce so it clings lusciously to every strand of pasta. Rather than a watery pool of sauce in the bottom of the bowl.
If you want to get technical, it’s because of the reaction that occurs between the starch in the pasta cooking water and the oil in the sauce.
I made this yesterday (Tuesday) and bumped into Pauline and Bill at the dog park just after I gave the homeless man a big steaming container of this pasta. The homeless man gave this a big thumbs up. Pauline and Bill politely declined my request for a family photo to include in this post. However, I know they’re certainly looking forward to getting their hands on this recipe – written out properly for them!!
– Nagi x
PS To bridge the communication gap: “Marinara” to most of the world other than Australia means a tomato pasta sauce. Not to be confused with “Marinara seafood mix” as sold in Australia, being a premix of different types of seafood in bite size pieces. So to Australians, “Spaghetti Marinara” means a seafood pasta, whereas in other countries, it means spaghetti in a tomato sauce.
In this particular recipe, it’s pasta with seafood in a tomato sauce….so I sort of captured both meanings!!!
- 6 oz / 180g dried spaghetti pasta (or other long pasta of choice)
- 2½ tbsp olive oil, separated
- 10oz / 300g seafood Marinara mix, or make your own (Note 1)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ onion, finely chopped (~1/2 cup)
- ½ cup white wine (any) (Note 2)
- 2 cups tomato passata/tomato puree (Note 3) OR 600g/20oz canned crushed tomato + ½ cup water
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to packet directions, but reduce the cooking time by 1 minute (because the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce). RESERVE 1 mug of pasta water, then drain the pasta.
- Separate the seafood mix based on cook time. Longest cook time: fish and medium / large prawns, medium cook time: small prawns, shortest cook time: calamari.
- Heat 1½ tbsp oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add fish and large prawns first, cook for 30 seconds. Add small prawns, cook for 30 seconds. Add calamari, cook for 1 minute. Immediately transfer everything to a bowl.
- Reduce heat to medium high. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil, then add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes until onion is translucent.
- Add wine and bring to simmer, scraping the bottom of the skillet to mix the brown bits into the liquid. Simmer for 1 minute or until alcohol smell has evaporated.
- Add tomato passata, sugar, salt & pepper. Low heat to medium high, bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Add pasta, seafood, around ½ cup of reserved pasta cooking water into the sauce. Toss gently and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and coats the pasta.
- Serve, garnished with fresh parsley. (See Note 4 re: parmesan cheese)
However, you can make up your own if you prefer, using whatever seafood you want.
2. The wine can be substituted with chicken broth/stock or (last resort) water.
3. Tomato passata / puree is like a thick tomato juice, it's smooth and has a thick consistency. It is plain pureed tomatoes. Not to be confused with tomato paste or tomato ketchup, or tomato sauce!
It can be purchased in the pasta aisle of supermarkets in Australia and costs around the same as canned tomatoes. Or you can make your own by pureeing any plain canned tomatoes in a blender. Otherwise, use canned crushed tomatoes.
4. Parmesan cheese is traditionally not used to garnish Italian seafood dishes. However, don't let that stop you!
Nutrition per serving. A big GENEROUS bowl! Realistically this serves 2 with a bit of leftovers.
Life of Dozer: Being dumped by a wave. Came out of it with his tail still wagging, and went straight back in for more. Currently trying to teach him to body-surf. It is not going well.