I was very fortunate when I was sixteen to go on a school trip to Italy, it was such a life changing experience. It was the first time I really understood what it meant to eat good food, I mean the food was incredible and the people who make it are so passionate about serving only the best and they truly want you to have a great experience. That has been my approach to cooking ever since, I always consider what experience the person eating it will have, how much they’ll appreciate the tiny details from how it was cut to how long it was cooked, that’s what it means to cook with love and you really can taste it.
Interestingly, in Italy they use very little sauce on their pasta, it’s actually a light coating if at all. A lot of the time the sauce is partially or almost entirely absorbed into the pasta resulting in intensely flavourful noodles.
Pasta water, the water used to cook the pasta, is like liquid gold because it contains a lot of the starch from the pasta and when used to create a sauce, it adds a silky, slightly thickened testure to the sauce. Always, always, always reserve some of the pasta water when making any pasta dish.
This recipe is very much in line with a traditional Italian cooking method, although it would likely never be served in Italy as I have combined cheese with seafood, which is considered a big no no…but trust me it’s awesome! Obviously though, if you don’t love seafood or if you want to make this a vegetarian dish, feel free to change it up, use asparagus in place of broccoli or chicken in place of shrimp and scallops, consider those things more of a garnish and just play with what you like.
Italian cooking is almost always incredibly simple, they use fresh, high quality, regional ingredients and prepare them meticulously. It’s very important when making a dish like this one that you use high quality ingredients, the simplicity of this dish is what makes it amazing but the ingredients have to be fresh because they will all be showcased.
Lemon & Garlic Seafood Cavatappi
Serves 4 very hungry people or 6 regular people
75g Cavatappi or other pasta
15g Garlic, minced (fresh not jarred)
175g Broccoli, cut into small florets
454g Shrimp, raw and peeled
454g Bay Scallops
70g Parmesan or Romano Cheese, finely grated
10g Lemon Zest
40g Lemon Juice, fresh
1 Tsp Fresh Black Pepper
2 Tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Olive Oil, good quality
1/4 Cup Italian Parsley, chopped
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
1 cup Pasta Water, reserved
Start a very large pot of water boiling, once boiling, add salt to the water until it “tastes like the sea”. This recipe is very quick, prepare all your ingredients while you bring the water to a boil so you have everything on hand. Get the pasta boiling for 10 minutes (put on a timer) you don’t want to overcook the pasta. Blanch your broccoli in the pasta water for 1 minute and remove from boiling water using a slotted spoon, set aside.
Heat a very large pan on medium/low heat and melt butter, add the minced garlic and heat for 30 seconds until you can smell it but do not allow it to brown. Increase heat to medium and add shrimp and scallops, cook for approx 2 minutes until the shrimp become pink, opaque and curl. Remove the seafood from the pan to prevent over cooking. At this point there will be some liquid in the pan from the seafood, add the lemon zest and juice and the parmesan cheese, simmer while stirring for one minute and add the reserved pasta water. Reduise heat to low, drain the pasta very well and add to the sauce in the pan, season with fresh black pepper, sea salt, olive oil and fresh herbs and toss to coat allowing it to absorb for 1 to 2 mintutes. To serve you can toss the seafood and broccoli in with the pasta or you can serve the pasta and place the seafood and broccoli on top. Garnish with some parmesean cheese and serve with warm baguette. Enjoy!