Calamarata with Shrimp and Mussels

It’s getting to be routine. I go to “my” Italian market with a list of items to buy. Once I’ve finished the vegetable portion of my romp, I take a casual stroll toward the fish monger. I just cannot pass that display case without stopping to check out the day’s catch. And that’s when it happens.

No matter who is behind that counter, I’m greeted with a friendly, “Hello. Are you looking for anything in particular?” or something to that effect. I explain that I’m just looking and, to be polite, I ask about an item on display. “You’ve got branzini (Mediterranean sea bass)?” “Where do you get your vongole (clams)?” “Are these cozze (mussels) Mediterranean?” “Do you have anguille (eels) at Christmas?” You know. Just being polite. Maybe it’s the way I pronounce “vongole” or something but once my question’s been answered, the conversation turns to shell-fish. A few weeks ago, it was the vongole, the “freshest in town.” And I bought some. The following week it was vongole again and I would have left with another bag of the little darlings had it not been well over 90˚. With a few more stops to make, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it home without melting; those clams didn’t stand a chance. The Friday before last, as I approached the counter, I noticed I was alone. The fish mongers were nowhere to be seen. Great! I could ogle the octopi, peruse the perch, savor the salmon, and scan the squid, all at my leisure and with no fear of leaving with a bag of seafood. Soon I spied a sign announcing a sale on mussels and I turned a bit to get a better view of the black beauties. That’s when he appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. “Those mussels are good, real good … but … these here are much better. They’re larger and-”  Resigned, I stopped him in mid-sentence and told him to just get me a pound. Why fight the inevitable?

While he bagged my mollusks, my mind raced. How would I prepare them and with what, if anything? Since mussels have such a strong flavor, I reasoned, they could easily stand up to a red sauce. Shrimp are, also, strong-tasting, I thought, and I bought a pound of them, too. Vongole, though, would never be able to compete in this mix, so, I bid “Ciao!” to the fish monger. I quickly decided to make a “fresh” sauce and by that I mean one that simmers only a brief amount of time. I want to taste fresh tomato and I headed back into the produce area to buy 9 large plum tomatoes. Now to find the dish’s most important component: the pasta. I headed over to the pasta aisle (actually, it’s a pasta aisle and a half!) and the choice was easy. Since the mussels and shrimp were large, I wanted my pasta to be, too. I selected calamarata, so named because they resembles large calamari (squid) rings.  It certainly didn’t hurt that they’d be used in a seafood dish. Leaving the pasta aisle, I mentally inventoried my fridge and knew I was set to go. I finished my shopping and headed home, munching on my reward, a cannoli.

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Calamarata

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When preparing today’s dish, remember to “Think Big!” Calamarata are a large pasta and everything included with it needs to be large, as well. So, the onions aren’t diced but chopped and rather large, at that. Once peeled, divide the tomatoes into 2 groups. The larger group, about ⅔ of the total, are seeded and chopped into chunks. These will add texture. The remaining ⅓, once seeded, is puréed in a food processor. These will be the basis for the sauce. The only things diced are the parsley, basil, and garlic. Even so, when garnishing the dish before serving, sprinkle a few hand-torn basil and parsley leaves. Most importantly, if you, too, want that fresh tomato taste, do not let the sauce simmer for longer than 30 minutes. The “simmer clock” starts the minute the tomatoes hit the pan. Cheese, by the way, would not be used with this dish.

And if you do like that fresh tomato taste, check out this recipe for Pesto Trapanese. It will take you longer to cook the pasta than it will to make this pesto and the taste is incredible.

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Calamarata with Shrimp and Mussels Recipe

(Calamarata con Gamberetto e Cozze)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb calamarata pasta
  • 1 lb fresh mussels, beards removed and scrubbed
  • 1 lb large  (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 9 or 10 large plum tomatoes – divided
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes, more of less to taste
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • splash of white wine
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, more for garnish
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped, more for garnish
  • ½ tbsp marjoram
  • 2 tbsp capers
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Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While waiting, use a paring knife to cut a small “X” into the bottom of each tomato. Once the water boils, place the scored tomatoes into the water and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and place in a bowl of ice water. Once cooled to touch, peel each, beginning at its “X”, before quartering and seeding it. Place aside.
  2. Take about ⅔ of the tomatoes and coarsely chop into chunks. Puree the rest of the tomatoes using a food processor, blender, or stick blender.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over med-high heat. Add the pepper flakes and, after a minute, add the onions. Sauté until translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and continue sautéing for about a minute more. Add a splash of white wine and reduce for a minute or two.
  5. Add all the tomatoes, season with salt & pepper, and maintain a medium simmer.
  6. Begin heating the water for your pasta. The calamarata pasta that I prepared needed 16 minutes to cook. Check your package’s instructions.
  7. When there are 5 minutes to go, add the parsley, basil, & marjoram to the frying pan, stir, and then add the mussels to the sauce and place a cover on the pan.
  8. 3 minutes later, add the shrimp and replace the cover.
  9. If you prefer to serve the mussels shelled, see Notes below.
  10. At the 5 minute mark, reserve some pasta water, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce pan. Add the capers and mix to evenly coat the pasta.
  11. Pour the calamarata into a serving bowl, garnish with torn basil & parsley leaves, and serve.

Variations

This is really a basic tomato sauce with seafood added. As I mentioned early on, I wanted a fresh sauce so I didn’t let the tomatoes simmer for long. You certainly may allow your tomatoes to simmer longer, if that’s your preference. Just remember that there’s no turning back once you put the pasta into the boiling water, and that’s regardless of the pasta you’ve chosen to cook. And once the mussels are put into the sauce, you have about 5 minutes to go. The cooking instructions on the pasta’s package are your friends.

Notes

As always, be sure to reserve some pasta water in case your sauce needs it. Be aware, though, that the mussels will give off some flavorful liquid during the cooking process. You may not need as much pasta water as you think.

Once the shrimp have been in the sauce for about a minute, I remove the pan’s cover and begin removing the mussels from their shells. I usually leave a few in the shell just for presentation in the final dish. Once all are removed, it is far easier to stir the sauce to insure the shrimp are evenly cooked on both sides.

I usually drain and add the pasta to the sauce when the shrimp are just shy of being fully cooked. They will finish cooking when mixed with the hot pasta and this will insure that neither shrimp nor mussels are over-cooked and chewy when served.

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By any other name …

There are two more of “my girls” but neither is doing well enough to make a public appearance. If they return from Betty Ford respond to treatment in time for Fall, I’ll be sure to share a photo or two. Before moving on to the rest of the roses, there are these, located at the foot of the bed, right next to Judy. Where else?

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Lady’s Slipper Orchids

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138 thoughts on “Calamarata with Shrimp and Mussels

      • I think I posted most of them, John. Oh, I didn’t. If you are on Facebook you can become my friend and look for my photo albums. It’s a personal page, under Sharyn DImmick. There’s a bookshop sketch of Shakespeare and Co. in today’s post, which will be up as soon as I paint some spare ribs.

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  1. So many wonderful things for us today! You get to eat cannoli on your way home from shopping (I may have to stop talking to you as I am so jealous!). And an aisle and half of pasta…..I think we get macaroni, the horrible multi coloured ones and the little stars here…I buy mine in London :( A beautiful pasta dish, so many fantastic flavours….just my sort of thing (please). And then we end with orchids…so beautiful. Wish I could show my mum (she´s very technophobic sadly) as she is the queen of orchid growing, and gave a great love for these beautiful plants.

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    • Thanks, Tanya. That market is just incredible! I haven’t seen so many dried pastas since I was last in Italy. Like a child in a candy shop, I walk it from one end to the other, smiling all the way. And you should have seen me when I discovered it continued into the next aisle. They’ve also a freezer section filled with avery wide selection of stuffed pastas. I’m in heaven!
      The availability of cozze and vongole has been spotty around here, unless I wanted to take out a loan to purchase a pound. Even then, they’re not sold by the pound but apiece. Now, though, it’s great having a good supply of my mollusks to serve with my pasta.
      I was amazed to learn that there are over 250 varieties of orchids indigenous to North America, some growing well north into Canada. There are a number of Lady’s Slippers, all of them are protected though and cannot be dug up. I bought mine at a nursery on the East Coast. I chose pink because, sitting next to Judy, they were the closest to ruby red I could find. :)

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      • Good news about the availability now of shellfish (I guess I´m lucky in that respect and it makes up, in a small way for the pasta crisis!). I saw so many beautiful orchids in Singapore in the botanical gardens, but owning and growing your own beats it all! Love the rationale behind the Lady´s Slippers :)

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        • Depending upon the variety, Tanya, some orchids are remarkably easy to grow and get to bloom. These Lady’s Slippers survive Chicago winters, after all. They’re hardly the dainty flowers most people assume all orchids are.
          As for selecting these, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” I’d already gone a bit off the beaten path with “my girls.” Might as well go all the way and get them some foot wear. :)

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  2. John, you are talking my language! Ok it might not be Italian, but the food – a fresh tomato sauce and seafood, just PERFECT. Sorry I know I’m shouting but it really does look perfect.
    And your trip to the deli, sounds such a treat, I wouldn’t know where to start or stop in your shop! I went to the one in London last week as I was in town and guess what they had sold out of Asiago (sp??). But I love the way your mind works when you get 1 key ingredient, it’s off to sort out the others. I so desparately want a fresh tomato sauce – (we have two left in the freezer, the longer cook style) I want that tang of a fresh sauce. I’ll just have to be a bit more patient….
    And Judy looks like she is in great company :)

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    • Thanks, Claire. I do enjoy a long-simmered sauce, no doubt about it. A fresh sauce, though, brings another flavor element to your pasta. It’s one of the highlights of summer, for me. Too bad about the Asiago. How dare they run out!
      And, yes, Judy is in good company. :)

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    • I can sympathize with you, to a degree. Living in Chicago, we are 1000 miles from the nearest coastline. Much of our seafood is frozen and thawed in the display cases. This market was a revelation. Much of the fish was fresh, never frozen, and I’ve not seen that assortment of shellfish in years. I could get used to this!
      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

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  3. I truly enjoyed your story behind this dish. This is where we get our inspiration to come up with a great dish as you did – with fresh ingredients. Isn’t it wonderful to go to the market and decide there what to do for dinner?? I find it so much fun! I love calamarata with seafood and I really appreciate the fact that you added capers and three herbs! This dish must burst with flavors!! While I write this my mouth is watering!!!

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    • Thank you, Ambrosiana. The best part of that dinner was how unexpected it was. I had planned to grill a hamburger for dinner that night. Instead, I feasted on this pasta. I like that market more with each visit. :)

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  4. Beautiful flavors, John, and so simple…The best ones are!
    Where were all these wonderful, attentive counterpeople when I was trying to staff a seafood department? Oh, yeah…Chicago.
    You did remind me of the one night per week that I ran the counter (every department head had to work one night per week). There was a small crowd of Regulars hanging around while I waited on each one, and answered questions about some new item in the case. The conversation turned to recipes, and before I knew it, we had grown to a group of more than a dozen, I was scribbling down instructions from one customer, and another was dashing to the front of the store to ask the desk to make copies for everyone…A lot of them came back every Tuesday night for the rest of the summer, and brought recipes to share. :)

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    • Thanks, Marie. I do not know where they found their help but I’m not the only one to notice how courteous everyone is. It is always “Hello”, “Please”, and “Thank you”. Every time I’ve asked for something that they do not happen to have, they offer to order it. One morning, a rather portly man came out from “the back”, spread his arms, and with a bit of an accent said, “Buongiorno every one!” Although no one replied, everyone within ear shot was smiling.
      What a great story of people gathering at your deli counter, swapping recipes! How I would have enjoyed that, as I’m sure you did. They probably all have blogs now. ;)

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  5. Hi John!
    I’m still at the beach and our diet here is based on fresh fish and “frutti de mare” but I’m not in charge of the cooking… But I think I just found The recipe for our first dinner back home next week :)
    Wonderful recipe, as usual!
    Your orchids are beautiful too :)

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    • Hello, Giovanna, and thank you for taking valuable vacation time to leave a comment. Your holiday on the beach sounds wonderful!
      If you make this dish, I hope you enjoy it a much as I did. But first, enjoy the rest of your holiday. :)

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  6. I’m like you when I go shopping but it doesn’t happen with the fish monger, it happens in the deli. I’ll be standing at the counter just looking and before I know it they’ll be making me try these amazing hams and salamis and prosciuttos and then I feel I just have to buy them so I walk out with the world’s best antipasto plate. Your pasta looks incredible. I love the type of pasta you used and the colours and flavours are amazing. And you bought only one cannoli?

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    • Thanks, Charlie. I don’t know what it is but I get in front of that fish monger and just stare, mesmerized, much like you at the deli counter I imagine. They see the look in my eye and know that I’m going to buy something. As for the cannoli, it’s much the same in front of their pastry case. With pastries and sweets, however, living alone, if I buy this stuff, I and I alone, will eat this stuff. So I limit my purchases because I have no willpower. As it is, I eat it on my way home, unable to wait even a half hour. Imagine if I had a half dozen in a box. It wouldn’t be pretty. :)

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  7. This dish sounds wonderful, John. And you weren’t kidding re the large mussels. Cultivated mussels tend to be quite inexpensive here, arround $5 a pound but I’ve never seen them that huge and plump before. I didn’t know about the differentiation regarding the fresh sauce, cool. I love the acidity the lightly cooked tomato brings to a dish. And I also like that there is no cheese in it; cheese and the mussels don’t go well.
    I checked out your other recipe and yum! I love that kind of sauce too. I haven’t been eating pasta for a couple of years now, but I may have to splurge to try your recipes!
    I keep forgetting to comment on your roses, they are indeed spectacular (your food is the distraction, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I had no idea you could grow an orchid outdoors, in Chicago no less. Very cool. I’ve never had any luck with roses, so I’ll just admire yours from afar.

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    • Thank you, Eva. These mussels were twice the size of the sale item and so worth the added expense. I started paying more attention to cooking times with tomatoes once I saw the Pesto Trapanese prepared. A short simmer keeps that garden-fresh taste, a real treat.
      Eva, you, too could grow orchids outdoors. There are species that grow well north into Canada. Like anything else in a garden, you need to do a little research to be sure they will thrive in your “growing zone.” I ordered mine from a nursery in Connecticut and planted them at the very end of the bed. There’s little light there and nothing I’d planted before had survived. These are thriving in the low light and are a bit of a surprise to anyone looking at the roses. :)

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      • Thanks John, but I dare say it sounds a bit out of my league! The roses, though, I will give a go, I have a really sunny spot (one spot in the whole garden) that will be perfect for it and a lovely Obelisk Trellis that JT made for me some time ago. Thanks for the idea and encouragement.

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  8. When did you say you are making this again? I don’t want to be late for dinner! Oh John, what a truly magical meal! And would you look at that orchid! Your garden is just too gorgeous! :-) Mandy
    PS. Hope the girls get through Betty Ford okay. ;-)

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    • Thank you so much, Mandy. When you get over here, you better plan on staying a while. The list of dishes is growing longer and longer.
      As for my girls, I’m heading back out there in a few minutes to continue working on their bed. Time will tell how successful this all will be.

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  9. What a delight to stop by your table (blog) and sit for a minute. I have missed visiting all my favorite haunts with the interruptions of a fire, flash flood watches, and my computer being fussy.
    This dish looks delicious (even without cheese!), an easy summer dish to enjoy on the patio with a refreshing glass of wine. :)
    Sorry your Lady’s Slipper is in for rehab — their delicate beauty is still there.

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    • Sorry that this Summer ha been so challenging for you and your community, Judy, although I’m glad that you were spared the worst of the nightmare. And yes, this dish with a glass of wine would be perfect served on a patio. ((sigh))
      And, yes, those Slippers are something, aren’t they?

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  10. Wow that is some giant pasta. Learned about a new pasta shape and the fresh tomato sauce taste today. The lady slipper orchids are lovely and hope the girls can recover.
    I like the descriptors of your market and monger exchange.

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    • Thank you, Ruth. I’ve become obsessed with that market. It’s a major disappointment if I can not get there once a week. It’s ridiculous, I know, but I’m not about to go there any less. There are cannoli at stake! :)
      Luckily this is early July and not September. I’ve got time to try to turn these roses around. We’ll see.

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  11. You have a lady slipper in bloom????? I am so jealous. How old is the plant? Wish I could plant one, but the deer would not leave it alone, sad.
    My kind of pasta dish, especially the sauce. Sure wish my tomatoes would hurry up and set fruits.

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    • Thank you, Norma. I got 3 Lady’s Slippers from a nursery in Connecticut 4 years ago. One didn’t survive this past winter. That early warm spell really affected my garden. It is sad that your deer would munch on an orchid. Some people grow these indoors. Now, if you’ve got deer indoors, you’ve really got a deer problem. :)
      I’m with you. My tomatoes cannot ripen quick enough!

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  12. I love making that “instant” sauce…in fact I just made it last week with the crabs that we caught, can I interest you in doing some crabbing at the Jerzee shore? Can’t get much fresher than that, and boy are they good…your flower is lovely too!!

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    • Hello, Marie, good to “see” you again. Aren’t fresh sauces good? Such a nice change from the standard long-simmered sauce. Your fresh crab dish sounds wonderful! I fear if I ever lived near a coast, DNR would be out preventing me from wiping out the local seafood. I love it so much and the idea of being able to just go harvest some in incredible! Yeah, I’d be banned, no doubt about it. :)

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  13. Oh my goodness that looks delicious! If I could, I would have it for breakfast right now! I’m looking forward to lots and lots of fresh seafood when we move to the east coast. :)

    The Ladie’s Slipper Orchid is gorgeous.

    Have a great day~ April

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  14. Oh now you’ve done it. I foresee this dish in my very near future. This is one that will be a hit with everyone. Mussels are one of our favorites. I’ve never seen calamarata before. I’m going to have to go check out Caputo’s. (Seems I live in there lately – we’ve been on a real basil kick.) Great dish John!

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    • Thanks, Kristy. I am in love with that market — and I still haven’t gone down each aisle yet. I’m almost afraid to, given my inability to say no to the fish monger or deli man or pastry lady. See how this is going? They’re all so nice and polite that I just have to buy something. Thank goodness they don’t have a puppy aisle or Max wold have plenty of company. :)

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  15. Lucky you having that little italian market.. I enjoyed the trip you took us through the supermarket almost as much as i did the description of this dish. All that freshness, the collection of tastes. Divine. now i am off to look at the pesto you gave a link to.. so much to learn in this post! Thank you. celi

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    • G’morning, Celi. Yes, I feel like I struck gold the morning I drove out to that market. I had heard about it years before but I just didn’t think it worth a trip to the suburbs. Was I ever wrong! It’s now a part of my Fridays and what I don’t find there, I purchase at the farmers market the following day.
      Do check out that Pesto Trapanese. It is a great recipe and with your garden-fresh tomatoes and basil, it can’t be beat.

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        • Yeah, I agree and must have basil. Luckily, it is probably the cheapest thing sold at the farmers market. If mine fails or something goes wrong, I can easily get some during my Saturday morning trip. One less thing to worry about.

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  16. Love the journey I took with you while you were shopping. You went a bit quickly for me, but you’re trying to get in out of the heat. Never seen those calamarata before – nice idea. The whole post is a nice idea – no surprise there.

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    • Thank you, Roger. That is one of the many advantages of this market: the selection of dried pastas. Although it would be pretty much standard for Italy, it is a welcome surprise here in the suburbs of Chicago. I’ve just begun to explore that aisle so there’ll probably be more obscure pastas in the future.

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  17. John!! I’m certain you can telepathically mind-read my, well, my mind! I was dreaming just yesterday about a large dish of tomato and cheesy pasta… studded with shrimp and you’ve made it for me!! Aargh… hold on.. I’ll be there in a few … um, hours!! Save some for me will you?? xo Smidge
    ps.. now you tell me you can grow orchids as well!! My gosh.. they’re stunning!!
    pps i made a “version” of your mozarella pasta yesterday.. and the kids loved it!!

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    • I can read your mind, Barb, and I’ve warned Hugh Jackman to get a restraining order for you should he ever enter Canada. :)
      You’re more than welcome to come. In fact, why don’t you time your arrival with Mandy’s. I’m very bad judging servings so whether I make dinner for 1 or 3, there’ll be plenty to go around.
      Those orchids were a real “find” and I’m very happy to see them bloom each spring.
      So glad to hear the your family enjoyed a variation of the baked rigatoni dish. It is a good one!

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  18. Great recipe – I have the same problem with a fishmonger in a market in London – he’s such a nice person it’s hard not to buy something. Neal’s Yard Dairy go one better by plying you with cheese and eventually it gets the better of you!

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    • They must see us coming or have some acute sense that we, mere shoppers, lack. There is a very small pasta shop down the street from my market and I stopped in there just to check it out. Soon, the counter guy got his mother and she, in turn, called her other son who just happened to bring out some focaccia to sample. We all chatted and had a nice time of it — and I left with 2 bags of fresh pasta. Fresh pasta! I chuckled all of the way home.

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  19. Hi John, you shop and cook like I do!! I love to just stroll in the market and have inspiration for dinner come to me as I peruse the isles! I haven’t found a – “my” Italian market here yet; I miss my butchers, fish mongers and all from my Fla market. That relationship is so great to have. This is a dish I could enjoy any time!!

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    • Thanks you so much, Linda. I so enjoy seeing a comment from you here.
      I think it is, for me, an advantage of living alone, the ability to enter a market and leave with dinner, and not worry whether someone else will agree with your choices. It’s the spontaneity that I enjoy. This market suits that part of my lifestyle very well. I’m sure you’ll find yourself a great little market, once you get settled a bit and have time to do some exploring of your area. If not, I’ll just have to send you Care packages. Just don’t count on there being any vongole in the boxes. :)

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  20. Once upon a time when Liz and I lived in an area where fresh fish was to be had, we would do the exact same thing as you…looking for the best that the fish monger has to offer. Liz usually demands to smell every potential purchase first and makes a “New Yorker” scene if a monger balks. Love everything about this dish as it brings in a little bit of happiness from multiple places for me. :-)

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  21. Pingback: Calamarata with Shrimp and Mussels | Le Marche and Food | Scoop.it

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    • Yes, I bet there’s a security video of me entering that aisle for the first time, mouth agape, wandering from side-to-side. It was like a dream come true! Thanks for leaving a great comment.

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  26. A pasta aisle and a half?!!! That’s it. I’m moving back to Chicago one way or another. Must. sell. house. pronto. What a wonderful story John, I love it. And it makes my heart ache for the city again.

    In other news, I am ashamed to say that I have never tried mussels. I know, I know, Hubby thinks I’m nuts too. BUT, now that YOU’VE written this, and given how I/we have loved every other recipe we’ve tried of yours, I’m not as afraid of them as I was yesterday at this time, :) The sauce looks amazing John. Of course, I’ll have to head to Madison to find that pasta and the mussels, but that’s just fine.

    Ahhhhh, the orchids are so lovely….

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    • Thank you, Sarah. Something I’ve learned is that area of Elmwood Park is a suburban “Little Italy.” There are a number of Italian shops, at least one bakery, a homemade pasta shop, cafés, and a fish monger. What you do not find at “my” market, you’ll certainly find along that street — and I haven’t even explored the street going further south. Maybe this week …

      You really should try mussels. If you like seafood, clams in particular, you’ll probably like mussels, though they are a bit stronger in taste. Personally, I really enjoy them. Give me a bucket of mussels marinara with some crusty bread and I’m in heaven. And no I won’t share!

      Yes, the orchids are beautiful but they, too, took a beating in the heat. Like my girls, they’re being pampered right now with an eye towards next spring. Fingers crossed!

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  27. that photo of the pasta by itself in the green bowl is plain & simple and it totally works, interesting photo. Recipe sounds tasty as usual.

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  28. To be able to stroll the aisles of an Italian market, calling the fishes by their oldworld names. I feel so, uh…. midwest. Thank you for sharing this beautiful dish. I think that was a good call on not trying to bring the clams home last week, they would have cooked on the way!

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    • Thanks, David. I don’t know what it is but that fish counter brings out the “Old World” in me. I walk over there and I’m considering buying an octopus — and I’ve never cooked one before!
      Now that the temps have returned to normal, there yet may be more clams in my immediate future. I have to learn to say no!

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  29. You Mr. Bartolini amaze me. You also make me very very hungry! This looks nothing short of exquisite, the sort of thing I wouldn’t be the least embarrassed to make a complete pig of myself over. Everything in that bowl is perfect there, the freshness of the tomato sauce, the shell fish, the herbs, the garlic, the capers, the type of pasta, the everything! And then you write about it in such an engaging way! I love showing up here John. (I’d love even more showing up at your front door…but then, who wouldn’t?)

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    • Thank you, Spree for leaving such a nice compliment. This meal is what Mom & Zia did best. They added a few spices to the freshest of ingredients and came up with fantastic dinners, night after night. And it only took me decades to figure it out!
      Growing up, there was always room at our dinner table for at least one more. The same is true today at my table. So, c’mon down!

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  30. In the pantry I have a bag of Calamarata I bought on impulse a few weeks ago. I’ll checkout the fish monger this weekend. I make similar with fresh lasagne for quick Saturday night dinners. One of the things I love about small shops & markets is having a chat with the seller. My favourite butchers all want to know what I’m cooking when I buy certain cuts & often offer suggestions or preferences. With others also many recipes & tips are swapped, and they’re always happy to answer my questions.

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    • I certainly agree with you about getting to know the people behind the counters, even at my neighborhood grocery. Their help is invaluable, especially when choosing seafood or a different cut of meat. I’ve a small butcher within walking distance and he’s taken an interest in my blog. I bought a picnic ham for a roast last winter and he’s been a fan ever since.
      I hope you enjoy the calamarata and thank you for stopping by.

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  31. What a dish on what a dish! This looks SO good, John and is making me crave seafood. I love that the pasta is calamari shaped, who knew? I didn’t. Just how many different kinds of pasta are there, anyway? Well, you’ve cooked up the perfect dish to match this one, that’s for sure. I could eat a whole pot of this if it was sitting in front of me. And your orchids are stunning, and perfect companions for the roses. :)

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    • Hello, Betsy, and thank you. There are so many types of pasta, it really is incredible. There is a specific pasta for just about every sauce imaginable. Going into a pasta shop in Italy is a real eye opener.
      This isn’t a difficult dish to prepare and I’m sure you could easily make it. The key is finding fresh seafood. If you have that, the rest is a breeze.

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      • As big as Atlanta is, finding really fresh seafood isn’t so easy, unfortunately. And when you do find it, it’s astronomically expensive, considering we aren’t that far from the coast. It makes me crazy, because I adore seafood. I just asked Eva this, but have you had issue with people you’re subscribed to falling off of the wp reader? This week you disappeared and I had to track back through emails last night to find your post…hence my late reply. I’m wondering if it’s just me!

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        • Atlanta is so much closer to the coast, I wonder why you pay top dollar for seafood? Probably because they can get away with it.
          Others have had the same problem, Betsy. Some time ago, I remember reading somewhere that if you go to your Reader and then the “Blogs I Follow” page, click on “Edit List” and you’ll see all of the blogs to which you’ve subscribed. Unsubscribe from the problem blog and then re-subscribe to it. It would be helpful for you to copy the blog’s url or to open another window with it so that you don’t have to go searching for the problem blog once you unsubscribe. Do my instructions make sense for you? I don’t see why this would work but apparently it does. Go figure!
          Good luck and let me know if you’ve any questions.

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      • Yes, the ‘stache is gone and this time for good. Although I shaved a year ago, it wasn’t until a couple months ago that I updated my avatar, in response to a post by Kathryn at KIWSparks. It’s a very rare thing for me to be without one, so, it’s been fun seeing friends’ reactions — or lack thereof. Harrumph! :)

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  32. John,
    I know why those fish mongers can’t wait for you to come in and look at their fresh catch of the day. That is because all of your local fish mongers are serious Bartolini Kitchen fans and can’t wait to see their ingredients in use. You speak of the perfect way to display your simple fresh ingredients. I love mussels , white wine and garlic together in any dish and the addition of pasta especially in that shape makes for a wonderful full and complete meal made in less than 30 minutes! Great post. Take care, BAM

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    • You are far too kind, BAM, thank you. Those fish mongers see the look in my eye and realize right away that I’m an easy sale. And that’s fine with me. Whatever I’ve bought from them has been very fresh and my dinner that night a good one. Not only that, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out a dinner, like I did here, while still in the market. And with that selection of dried pasta, I cannot go wrong. It’s pasta heaven, I tell ya! Have a great day & weekend, BAM!

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  33. I love your orchids! They look to be thriving! I had to smile picturing you just being polite to the fish monger…just hoping to get by with a good look on your own! I’m not good at walking by any vendor without at least being complimentary, and there are times this can be almost a burden! Ha! But in your case, I also think the back and forth with the person who also appreciates the fish they are selling contributes to the pleasure of creating a special dish! This dish is such an example of fresh and with the rough chopping, relatively easy to prepare. I must look for Calamarata, too. I love the look! Thank you, too, John, for being such a good teacher…I would love to whip out a little Italian next time I’m ordering some fresh fish! :-) Debra

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    • Thanks, Debra. You always leave such great comments. I never know about the orchids. They bloom in spring and then the plant just kinda hangs around. It’s always a surprise to see them sprout again and bloom. Unfortunately, this year, only 2 of the 3 came back. I’m happy that you appreciate the Italian. My Zia has said that there is no one with whom she can speak Italian. Now, I’m certainly not fluent, not even close, but if I can throw out a few words, here and there, not only will it please her, but my vocabulary should improve, too. Well, that’s the plan.
      I really do like seafood pasta, Debra. As a boy, growing up Catholic, abstaining from eating meat on Friday was certainly not a hardship for me, especially when there was some great pasta being served. Who needed meat? And this dish is very much in the style of Mom & Zia. Fresh ingredients and a few herbs & spices, with nothing at all exotic in the bunch. The result is one great meal. :)

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  34. Pingback: Calamarata with Shrimp and Mussels | The Authentic Food & Wine Experience | Scoop.it

    • We all have our likes and dislikes, Sawsan, but I really do appreciate that you stopped and left such a nice comment, nonetheless. Thank you for that. I’ll try and do better next time. ;)

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  35. Oh, gosh, you’ve taken me to my very happy place with this dish! Holy Moly does that sound heavenly. (And I think I desperately need a fishmonger.) :) Btw, sorry I haven’t commented in a bit – looks like WP lost your feed for me. Again.

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    • No problem, Courtney. When I saw this note I realized I’ve missed a couple of your posts, too. I just unsubscribed and resubscribed to your blog. That is supposed to clear the problem. We’ll know soon enough.
      I went for years without a good place to buy fish. Finding this market has been heaven-sent. I hope you can find one in your area. It’s fantastic!

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  36. John, the first time I ever had calamari was at an old Italian restaurant in San Francisco called Doro’s, I believe. Having no idea what to expect, I whispered to my husband seated next to me after sampling my dish that my noodles were undercooked. He thought that was hysterical. Personally I didn’t get it. I’ve grown into calamari over the years and have acquired a taste for it when cooked properly. A secret for a fish and shellfish lover such as myself, I’ve never tried mussels. If given a bag of them I would have no clue how to proceed. Thanks to this blog I can now say I have a good start. :)

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    • And I haven’t met a mollusk I didn’t like and now that I know how easy it is to fry up some calamari, I do it at home all of the time. You, though, must give mussels a try, especially being a seafood lover. They’re stronger tasting than clams, that’s for sure, but that only means you can do more with them without fear of them getting “lost” in the dish.
      I tell you, Susie, for well over a decade, I’d no access to “fresh” seafood other than what was at my grocer’s and, even then, I had to special order it. In the last 3 months or so, I’ve “discovered” 3 fish mongers and the 2 Italians have fish that I’ve not seen since I was a little boy. To say I’m in heaven is an understatement. :)

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  37. If there is one thing that will make my mom and me drop everything in an instant, it’s pasta with any sort of bivalve. I will have to just make sure I have the mussels on hand when I show her this post. To do it any other way would be cruel.
    I love your orchids — anyone who can grow orchids is a garden god, as far as I’m concerned. (And I’m sure Judy appreciates having the slippers handy.)

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    • Thank you so much. I bet your Mother would love this dish. It’s not heavily spiced so the flavor of the seafood really comes through. Growing these orchids isn’t as daunting as one would think. It’s all about finding the right spot. Mine are at the very end of the bed, a section that gets only filtered sunlight, offering the plants plenty of shade. People are often surprised to find them there. See, on one side of Judy are poppies. That always brings a smile. Then, they discover the Lady’s Slippers and more than once the response has been a groan. :)

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  38. Where do I start? The last thing that caught my eye was the lady slipper. I remember finding the rare one growing in the woods in Maine. My father would say, “that’s rare, don’t touch it, just enjoy the view!” Thanks for the memory.

    I love this post and the food photos make me very hungry!

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    • I’ve yet to find a Lady’s Slipper “in the wild,” but how I would enjoy that! These I ordered from a green house in Connecticut about 4 years ago. I planted 3 but 1 didn’t survive last Winter. The mildest Winter I can remember and 1 didn’t make it. Go figure. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for stopping by again. :)

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  39. First things first, for some maddening reason your posts aren’t showing up in my subscription feed. This happened to me with Cecilia’s site. I’m going to unsubscribe and immediately resubscribe. That worked with hers. I hate missing any of your posts. But enough of that. This looks fantastic and is the perfect example of why I can’t miss your posts!

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    • Unfortunately, you’re not the only one to be having problems like this. I just did the same with 2 blogs who just disappeared from my “Blogs I follow” list. It is annoying, though, isn’t it?
      And thanks, Greg, for always being so complimentary. I do appreciate it.

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  40. Very entertaining read. I love mussels but don’t cook with them enough. I’ve never used them in a red sauce, but thought about it (and then usually opted for clams). Very good recipe – thank you.

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    • You are very welcome. If you enjoy clams in a red sauce, then you’ll really enjoy mussels. They have so much more flavor than clams and you can build a very robust tomato sauce with them. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Don’t be a stranger! Now I’m going to check out your neck of the blogosphere. :)

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  41. There is nothing like a seafood pasta dish with a short simmered tomato sauce. The flavors are so fresh that way. During the summer, I keep a cloth insulted bag in the car for when I go shopping. I always ask the man at the seafood counter for a little bag of ice to keep the items I buy cold enough until I get home. They are always very accommodating.

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    • We are in complete agreement, Karen. Are you aware of Pesto Trapanese? It is a Sicilian pesto made with raw cherry tomatoes. It is a great condiment for a pasta on a hot summer’s day and has that fresh tomato taste that we both love.
      My fish mongers will pack my seafood on ice, too, but that market is about a 40 minute drive from my home. With the temps in the upper 90′s and a few stops to make along the way home, I just didn’t think it worth the risk. I like your idea, though, of being prepared. I’ve a small cooler that I could just as easily keep in my trunk as I do in my closet. It looks like there’ll be more seafood in my future. YAY!!! Thanks for the idea and for always leaving such great comments.

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  42. Holy cow!!! I need to shop where you shop! Everything is fresh and wonderful! Unfortunately, in my local and most convenient grocer, we only have the typical pasta shapes! I love mussels, but have never tried making them! Perhaps I should!

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    • Thank you for dropping by and commenting. If you enjoy mussels, then give cooking them a try. They aren’t nearly as daunting to prepare as one might imagine and they taste oh, so very good. The “rules” are simple. Strip each of its beard, scrub the shells with a brush, and do not eat any mussels whose shells haven’t opened during the cooking process. C’mon, Lulu, give ‘em a try! :)

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  43. So many comments to make … I love pasta dishes but use tomatoes in moderation in their more natural form as I have longstanding issues with texture so I’d be blitzing most of the tomatoes in this dish. But the flavour would still be there. :) I just wish the best fish place I knew of had better parking because I’d be there weekly when the truck comes from Toronto with all their fresh goodies like sushi grade tuna and live shellfish.

    I don’t use mussels near enough in my cooking (clams are more easily available, especially frozen) and just let the chinese restaurant serve them to me when I get a craving. Usually for dim sum. :)

    I’ll have to drop in again soon.

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    • Welcome back and you can make as many comments as you like. The thing about Italian cooking is that there is no one correct way to make most dishes. It is more important that the ingredients be as fresh as possible than anything else. If you like your tomatoes blitzed, go for it.
      It’s funny how seafood availability varies from one area to another. Mussels could always be found here but littleneck or Manila clams rarely so. If I saw clams in a display case, I bought them and dinner that night was linguine with clams, no matter what had been previously planned. Within the past year, though, I’ve come across 4 good sources for clams. I’m in heaven! In fact, for the first time in years, I’ve actually been able to say “No!” to clams. Imagine that! :)

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  44. I never seen Calamarata pasta. I love the shape! This dish looks absolutely delicious, lots of different flavors and textures. Love the choice of herbs, especially the marjoram and the amount of marjoram. I’ve never tried it with seafood, but I will now!

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    • My Mom’s family, the Bartolinis, come fron an area of Italy, Marche, where marjoram is used more commonly than oregano. I prefer it because it is less over-powering. I, too, love calamarata and was happy to find it. A store that carries this pasta has to have a pretty large pasta inventory. Luckily, I’ve “discovered” a market with an extensive stock. I love just walking up and down that aisle checking things out. I’m easy to please. :)

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  45. What do you know! Another pasta I’d never met. But I did figure out where they got their name pretty quickly from your great photos, and I know I’d enjoy them. A well-designed dish, both in concept and execution, O maestro mio della cucina. Or however that should be said. :) Or perhaps it’s best said thus: Yummy! ;)

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    • Thanks, Kathryn! I have to say, I walk around that market and get inspired. It reminds me so much of going shopping with Dad as a young boy. Granted, this place is totally modern but the “inventory” is very much the same. That fish counter alone takes my breath away. Just his past week I brought a branzino back to Zia. What a meal that was!

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  46. Pingback: Eel in the Style of Le Marche — Anguille alla Marchigiana | from the Bartolini kitchens

  47. Beautiful post and delicious recipe. I love the Calamarata with the seafood. Brilliant and a very pretty presentation. I make a list of what I plan on preparing, and always walk around looking and find another edge to a recipe. It is funny how many of us do that. Your ideas are always delicious, fun, and incredible. Thank you for your wonderful recipes and stories! Love your orchids and roses :)

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    • Now that I can no longer work, I tend to plan my meals less and less. It’s nice having the time to be able to shop around and select the freshest for that day’s dinner or the next’s and not have to buy for a full week at a time.
      Thank you for being so kind with your comments, Judy, whenever you visit. You always leave me smiling. :)

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