Dish Deconstructed: Matteo's Linguine Frutti di Maré

Categories: Homebrew
matteolinguine.jpg
Bill Citara
Matteo's is the kind of upscale Italian-American restaurant that's as common as Botoxed foreheads and lipo-ed thighs in its tony Boca Raton neighborhood. The menu doesn't plow any new culinary ground, but what it does it does pretty well, and one dish it does really well is the classic linguine frutti di maré.  

Too many Italian-esque restaurants in these parts just sling a bunch of seafood into a marinara sauce and call it done, making what should be a dish of some delicacy that respects the natural flavors of impeccably fresh fish and shellfish into one that ponderous, dull-tasting and boring. Matteo's gets it right, with a brothy sauce that delivers the lusty flavors of tomatoes and garlic but with a lightness that lets the seafood shine. There's nothing terribly difficult about making it, just be sure every ingredient is of the highest quality you can get your hands on. 

Any mix of fish and shellfish you like--clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, calamari and mahi are good choices--enough to serve four people.
  • ¾ C. dry white wine
  • Water
  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 1 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1 t. each, dried thyme and oregano
  • 2 T. olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T. chopped parsley 
To prepare the fish: Wash clams and mussels under running water to remove any grit. Refrigerate until ready to cook. Devein shrimp, slice calamari into rings, slice scallops in half horizontally, trim mahi and cut into 1-inch square. Refrigerate until ready to cook. 

To prepare sauce: Heat olive oil in sauce pan large enough to hold all seafood and pasta and over medium heat, sauté onions until translucent (about 5 minutes), add garlic and sauté two minutes more. Add tomatoes and their liquid to pan, crushing tomatoes with your hands, then add herbs and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Remove from heat and pour sauce into bowl. 

Bring large pot filled with salted water to boil. Add linguine and stir. 

In same saucepan used for marinara, add white wine, clams, mussels and enough water to fill pan by about ½ inch. Cover pan, bring to boil and cook until shellfish open, which can take from five to 10 minutes (depending on size of pan, amount of shellfish and how hot your burner will get). Turn off heat, discard any clams or mussels that didn't open, remove the rest to a plate and pour off all but 3/4 cup of clam-mussel broth. Add marinara and all other seafood except clams and mussels and bring to strong simmer for three to five minutes. Now add clams, mussels and drained pasta and cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes, tossing pasta with sauce. Serve in heated bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.
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