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Fresh seafood elevates spaghetti

| Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010

While visiting Elba, a tiny, picturesque island off the western coast of Italy, I tasted a wonderful pasta dish made with fresh shellfish, white wine and spaghetti. Spaghetti del Pescatore (Fisherman's Spaghetti) is the kind of simple dish that makes Italian food so enticing.

I have adapted the recipe, using clams and shrimp, but any shellfish including mussels or lobster may be substituted.

The accompanying salad uses fennel, a pale-green bulb with darker, feathery leaves. It has a texture similar to celery and a very mild licorice flavor.

Spaghetti del Pescatore (Fisherman's Spaghetti)

  • Water
  • 1 pound fresh clams
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup low-sodium, low-fat tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 pound spaghetti (1 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Place a large saucepan filled with water on to boil. Scrub the clams and place in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cover with a lid and cook until the shells open, for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan several times. Remove the clams to a bowl, leaving the juice in the pan. (If the juice is sandy, strain through a sieve lined with paper towels.) Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and white wine to the skillet. Boil to reduce the liquid, for about 1 minute. Lower heat to medium and add the shrimp and tomato sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes or until the shrimp are pink; remove from heat. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Return the clams to the skillet and set aside, covered. Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water for 8 to 9 minutes. Drain and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and the sauce. Serve on 2 plates and top with the clam sauce.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 566 calories, 9 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 270 milligrams cholesterol, 49 grams protein, 59 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams dietary fiber, 300 milligrams sodium.

Celery and Fennel Salad

  • 2 ribs celery (about 1 cup sliced)
  • 1 small fennel bulb (about 2 cups sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, optional
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat vinaigrette dressing
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Remove the leaves from the celery and fennel. Chop some of the fennel leaves to make about 2 tablespoons. Thinly slice, paper thin, if possible, the celery and fennel. Place in a bowl and add the capers and dressing. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the chopped fennel leaves on top.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories, 1 gram fat (0 saturated), 1 milligram cholesterol, 2 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams dietary fiber, 557 milligrams sodium.

Helpful Hints:

  • Short cut tip: Omit the Celery and Fennel Salad and use a washed, ready-to-eat Italian-style salad instead.
  • Crushed red pepper can be found in the spice section of the supermarket.
  • Buy pre-shelled shrimp.
  • Minced garlic can be found in the produce section of most markets. 1 crushed garlic clove can be used instead.
  • Slice the celery and fennel in a food processor using the thin slicing blade.
  • A quick way to chop fennel leaves is to snip them with a scissors.

Countdown:

  • Place water for pasta on to boil.
  • Make salad and let marinate.
  • Make spaghetti dish.

SHOPPING LIST

Here are the ingredients you'll need for tonight's Dinner in Minutes.

To buy: 1 pound fresh clams, 3/4 pound shrimp, 1 small fennel bulb, 1 small bunch celery, 1 small bunch parsley, 1 small bottle capers (optional), 1 small jar crushed red pepper, 1 small bottle/can low-sodium, low-fat tomato sauce, 1 small bottle dry white wine and 1 package spaghetti.

Staples: Olive oil, minced garlic, reduced-fat vinaigrette dressing, salt and black peppercorns.

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