Pasta Calamarata with Mussels and Shrimp with Butter Garlic Sauce

20170908_133446This pasta is called Calamarata because it looks like  rings of calamari doesn’t it?

It’s very simple to make. It’s deliciousness depends on good, fresh ingredients and not ruining them.  I bought the pasta fresh from the refrigerator section in my corner store here in Manfredonia but you can use penne, rigatoni or spaghetti for this. One rule of thumb here in Puglia is for white sauces use smooth pasta, for red sauce you can have ridges that grab the sauce better. This is especially true with Carbonara or Cacio e Pepe.


1 pound pasta – calamarata or penne, rigatoni, spaghetti                                                             1 cup dry white wine                                                                                                                           1 pound fresh mussels – rinsed with fur pulled out – discard any already open mussels 1pound fresh shrimp – preferably with shells , head and tail which adds so much flavor!1 1 white or yellow onion- chopped in 1/2 inch pieces                                                                    3 cloves garlic minced                                                                                                                        3 T unsalted butter                                                                                                                                handful of Italian parsley chopped  or use whole arugula leaves which I did since my husband doesn’t like parsley- and no chopping required

Make It

  • Saute’ butter in large pan  while water boils for the pasta.
  • Wait to boil the pasta until you are 10 minutes from eating –  add a generous handful of salt before throwing the pasta in. (the pasta water should taste salted and flavorful)
  • cook pasta until al dente – as it keeps cooking after you remove from heat
  • drain pasta reserving a cup of pasta water in case the finished dish is too dry.
  • Put the pasta back in the empty pot with a little butter and stir it around – leave it until you are ready to assemble it all
  • When butter is sizzling add the onions and garlic  and cook for a couple minutes on medium heat until transparent.
  • Add the shrimp and toss around in the pan until they are pink, then add all the wine and cook until it evaporates.
  • Add the mussels, cover the pot for about 3 minutes until the mussels open

Put it all together

  • Heat up the pasta on medium for  30 seconds, add the shrimp and mussels stirring for a couple minutes until the pasta absorbs the sauce.  Add the pasta water if it seems too dry.
  • Lastly throw on the parsley or arugula and Mangia!











Octopus the gem food of Puglia


The key to tender Octopus (vs. chewy and tough) is the capture and storage of it. On the coast of Puglia it’s common to see men wacking their specimens on the rocks to tenderize the meat which is the most reliable method. We can’t expect that at the fish market though so the next best thing is to freeze for at least 24 hours to break down the fibers. It’s the only fish I recommend freezing! My husband, spearfishing for fun brings home the freshest of seafood so anything less than fresh is an acceptable in our home.

Octopus must be cleaned, so you may want to ask your fish monger to do it if you’re not into digging around a slimy sea creature. It’s not hard. Just hold the head under running water remove and discard the ink sac, stomach, and eyes. Then use a sharp knife to cut out the beak, which is at the bottom of the head

There are many recipes for boiling and braising octopus, but I usually put it in a pot and cover it with water and a cup of white wine. I add some peppercorns, lemon, and three or 4 cloves of garlic, and then let the mixture slowly simmer. I may throw in a wine cork bit I’m not convinced it does anything but it is an italian wives tale that is suppossed to reultbin tender meat. You can tell when the octopus is tender by piercing it with a sharp knife: if tender, the knife should go in very easily. Cooking times vary depending on the size of the octopus and whether if was frozen, but it usually needs 45 to 90 minutes to become sufficiently tender. The addition of the wine cork is a bit controversial—advocates, like Mario Batali, claim it contains and enzyme that helps tenderize the octopus while it cooks. Since its so easy to add, I often toss it in. Harold McGee offers some contrary evidence.

I love eating it straight out of the pot even a room temperature with a drizzle of evoo, sea salt and a grind of pepper.

It’s also delicious thrown on a grill for 2 minutes to get a smokey, grilled flavor with yummy charred bits to boot. Wood fire is preferred but gas grill works as well.