Linguini with clams, seafood rolls

Liguini with clams (Courtesy of Scordo.com)

Liguini with clams (Courtesy of Scordo.com)

Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET

When you're looking for something elegant and satisfying for your meal, yet don't have time to spend on the details, definitely stock up on ocean-friendly, sustainable seafood. Fresh is always good but sometimes a can of this and that does help cut your prep time in half. Here's a selection of dishes that are fast and friendly and can be made with fresh or canned ingredients.

People will think you spent way more time in the kitchen then you did!

Linguini con Vongole (Linguini with clams)

This is my go-to recipe when I'm late getting home and need a meal in moments. This recipe is excellent with freshly-shucked clams, but for the time crunched, a can of clams with juice is the perfect antidote to get a meal on the table in no time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (450g) dry linguini pasta
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 1 green onion, white only, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) hot chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 can (about 16-oz./475ml) whole baby clams, with juice
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) dry white wine
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Additional flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Directions:

Cook linguini according to package instructions, making sure pot is large and salted water is at a rolling boil. While pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté a few minutes. Add garlic, parsley, basil and chili flakes and sauté additional five minutes, until garlic is opaque. Add baby clams with juice and dry white wine and simmer additional 5-8 minutes, until mixture has thickened.

Linguini should be al dente by now. Gently add linguini to pan and sauté mixture together, adding 1-2 Tbsp. (15-30ml) of pasta water to mixture if necessary.

Divide pasta between 4 heated bowls and top with freshly cracked black pepper and parsley. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Seafood Rolls

You can use canned lobster or crab, or imitation crab for these fast and fabulous rolls that are perfect on their own or served with a side salad or soup. In this recipe I used a can of lobster meat to equal 2 cups (500ml) — enough for leftovers to add to a salad for lunch next day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (500ml) canned lobster meat, well drained and thick chopped
  • 4 green onions, whites only, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) finely diced celery, tender ribs
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) dried tarragon (optional)
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) dried dill (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) mayonnaise (regular or light - not fat-free)
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch salt
  • Boston Bibb lettuce leaves

Directions:

8 soft split top rolls (split down the centre) buttered.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing gently to blend. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Line buttered rolls with Boston Bibb lettuce and stuff with filling. Serve immediately. Save any leftovers as a topping for a mixed salad next day.

Makes 8 buns.

TIP: You can butter buns and toast, butter side down, in a skillet until golden before assembling buns.

Zucchini Poutine with Mustard Cream

I first made this dish during a cooking class at the famous Atelier Guy Martin cooking school in Paris, France working with the famous Maille mustard team. Since then I've tweaked and fine-tuned it to create it as quickly and simply as possible and it continues to bring on the wow-factor every time it's served.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs. (2 kg.) zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) butter
  • 12 large shrimps, peeled and deveined, tails attached
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) butter
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) Maille Originale mustard
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) whipping cream
  • 1 cup (250ml) grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) grated Fontina cheese

Directions:

Prepare zucchini by gently washing surface. Do not peel. Slice outer layers of zucchini diagonally and then in half (eliminating centre). Zucchini should resemble French fries. Heat butter in a large frying pan and saute zucchini "fries" until golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

Clean fry pan and heat 1 Tbsp. (15ml) butter. Saute shrimp until pink and tightly curled, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

In a bowl, thoroughly blend mustards and whipping cream.

Divide zucchini fries into four individual oven-proof shallow baking dishes. Drizzle evenly with mustard-cream sauce. Blend two cheeses thoroughly and sprinkle evenly on four dishes. Place in broiler and broil until cheese is hot and bubbly — careful not to burn. Top each dish with several shrimp and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Indian-Spiced Steamed Mussels

Easy and economical, a pound of fresh mussels can be reinvented into a variety of astonishingly delicious meals in moments. Here's an excellent recipe from Fine Cooking magazine that guarantees wow factor every time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. (22ml) peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp. (4ml) curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. (2ml) crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (about 16-oz./475ml) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) water
  • 1/2 tsp. (2ml) garam masala
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 lbs. fresh mussels
  • 1 cup (250ml) frozen baby peas
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasion until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add ginger, curry powder and crushed red pepper flakes, cover and cook 1 minute. Stir in diced tomatoes with juice, water and garam masala. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Rinse and debeard mussels. Discard any that are open. Add mussels and baby peas to pot. Cover and cook, shaking pot occasionally, until mussels open, about five minutes. (Discard any that have not opened). Sprinkle mussels with chopped cilantro and serve with chunks of crust bread.

Serves 2.


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