West Town Tavern 1329 West Chicago Avenue Chicago www.westtowntavern.com
Pan-Seared Gulf Shrimp, Manila Clams and Mussels with Spicy Roasted Tomato Sauce and Linguini
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion, about 1 medium
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and finely chopped, fronds and stems reserved
1 Tablespoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup zinfandel
1 15 1/2-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup Fish Stock, or Chicken Stock or water, or purchased chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 ounces dry linguini (3/4 pound)
1 pound mussels, de-bearded and rinsed
2 pounds hard-shelled (manila or littleneck) clams, scrubbed
1 pound large shrimp (31 to 35 count), preferably wild Gulf shrimp, peeled, deveined, thawed if frozen
If you make the sauce ahead of time, this zesty seafood pasta goes together in a snap. Even if you make the recipe start to finish, it doesn't take much effort. Vary this to suit what is available at the fish market: Use chunks of firm-fleshed mahi-mahi, lobster tails or crab legs. Give it a Portuguese flavor by adding sliced linguiça sausage. Italians never serve seafood pasta with Parmesan, so sprinkle the top with toasted garlic breadcrumbs, if desired.
In a 5-quart sauté pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring, until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté a few more minutes until fragrant and softened but not browned. Add the fennel bulb, fennel seed and crushed red pepper and stir well. Add the wine and tomatoes, bring to a boil. Pour in the stock and lower the heat. Simmer only 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or cool quickly in an ice-water bath and refrigerate, covered, for 3 days. Sauce may also be frozen and is handy for use in this dish, pizza, lasagna, or whenever a full-flavored tomato sauce is needed.
While sauce is cooking, in a 6-quart pot, bring a gallon of water to a boil and add the salt and linguini. Cook the linguini, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta, do not rinse. Reserve. Add the seafood to the tomato-fennel sauce and cover the pan. Cook over medium high heat until shellfish open and shrimp are firm and pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open. Divide the linguini among 6 large warm pasta bowls and ladle the shellfish and sauce over the top.