Seafood shines in Seafood Pasta. It’s one of those recipes that will have you snapping a photo of your plate, but is shockingly easy to prepare at home!
Mussels, scallops, and shrimp are the star in a garlic, butter, and white wine sauce.
It’s a one-pot meal that is both quick and oo-la-la fancy.
If you are intimidated by cooking with seafood, let this dish be your gateway.
You can also try your hand at Garlic Shrimp Pasta or Salmon Pasta, also easy but impressive seafood pasta dishes.
Keys to Making Great Seafood Pasta
As with many Italian-leaning recipes, seafood pasta is simple, but its simplicity means that for the dish to taste its best, you need to adhere to a few essential details.
Fresh Seafood. You cannot cheap out on the seafood with this dish. The quality of the seafood is the essence of seafood pasta. Fresh mussels and scallops must be used, but frozen shrimp that are defrosted and patted dry are OK.Fresh Herbs. Use fresh garlic and parsley, not jarred garlic or dried parsley. They make a world of difference.Good Wine. As Ina Garten says, “cook with wine you would drink.”
Do Not Overcook the Seafood.
This is the #1 tip for making any seafood: do not overcook it!
Shrimp take just minutes, and is fully cooked once they just turn opaque.The key with mussels is steaming just until they open.Scallops’ done-cooking “tell” is like shrimp’s; fully cooked once they just turn opaque. Make sure to give them a good sear for an extra flavorful exterior.
What Kind of Sauce is Best with Seafood?
This seafood pasta recipe is a butter, garlic, white wine sauce.
The simmered mussels additionally help build flavor, as their cooking liquid is incorporated into the sauce. It’s DIVINE.
If you are looking for a creamy white sauce seafood pasta, check out Cajun Shrimp Pasta.If red sauce is your jam, make Spicy Shrimp Pasta.For fresh and bright (simple chicken broth and lemony sauce with Parmesan cheese), make Shrimp Orzo with Lemon and Asparagus.
All are delicious, but I’m partial to this version.
Can I Add Parmesan Cheese to Seafood Pasta?
Italians are said to frown at mixing cheese and seafood, not because they don’t like cheesy pasta—we all know that’s not true.
While I typically agree that adding cheese to a dish is never a bad idea, for this pasta, the seafood needs to shine. Seafood is delicate, and Parmesan has a strong salty and nutty flavor that would overpower it.Even though the sauce does not have cheese in it, it still tastes rich and flavorful from the garlic, butter, and cooking liquid from the mussels.
How to Make Seafood Pasta
This pasta is a one-pot wonder, quick enough for a weeknight, and special enough to impress guests.
Seafood. The star and reason for this dish!
How to Shop for Seafood
Shrimp. Avoid shrimp that smell like ammonia or have soft or slimy shells.Mussels. Good, fresh mussels should look wet and smell like the ocean: salty and clean. Do not buy mussels if they smell fishy or otherwise funky. Additionally, make sure they are all closed; discard any that are open. After purchasing, they can be left in fridge for up to 48 hours before cooking.Scallops. Like mussels, give them the smell test, and pass on any that smell fishy. Seek out ones that are firm and dry over soft and wet, with a texture almost like pork chops.
To save on time, you are welcome to purchase fresh shrimp that are already peeled and deveined, or even frozen. If using frozen, thaw overnight in refrigerator and make sure they are fully patted dry before cooking.
Noodles. Linguine is the best type of pasta for seafood pasta in my opinion. The long and light noodles twirl beautifully to pick up sauce and bits of seafood with each bite, and I think it’s so elegant.
Ideally, time the recipe so that as soon as the noodles are finished cooking to al dente, you’re ready to add them directly to the skillet with the rest of the cooked seafood.
Timing-wise I find that if I add the noodles to the boiling about a minute or two after I start searing the scallops, the timing is perfect.
White Wine. A dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio pair well with the seafood. And then you can drink the extra with the meal. WIN.
Butter. Melted to sauté the seafood and start the base of the sauce, the butter adds the perfect amount of richness and flavor base.Aromatics. Shallot and garlic add that yum-yum pow of flavor.Seasonings. Old Bay is the classic seafood seasoning to enhance the dish.Lemon. Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds a brightness to complements the fresh seafood.Herbs. Oregano, basil, and fresh parsley come together for that perfect Italian flair. Add optional red pepper flakes for a small heat kick.
Clean the mussels. Cook pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
Sear the scallops and saute the shrimp. Transfer to a plate.
Sauté the shallot and garlic in butter.
Add wine and seasonings.
Add the mussels, cover, and steam until mussels open.
Add everything back to the skillet, toss, and enjoy!
To Store. Seafood pasta is best enjoyed immediately after preparation, but leftovers can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.To Reheat. Reheat gently on stove with a splash of water or broth to keep the pasta from drying out.To Freeze. I do not recommend freezing seafood pasta, as the seafood will not maintain its texture.
What to Serve with Seafood Pasta
Roasted Green Beans
Crock Pot Bread
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
Tongs. Great for flipping the seafood and pulling pasta.Skillet with Lid. Make Healthy One-Pot Meals with this baby.Citrus Juicer. Makes squeezing the lemons a breeze, and keeps out the seeds. Works great for limes and oranges too (hello margaritas).
Don’t be scared to cook seafood!
This seafood pasta will have you making seafood like a pro.
Frequently Asked Questions
Seafood is a healthy protein that is often overlooked for chicken breasts. Seafood is also an excellent source of Omegas and other nutrients that you cannot get in many other foods. I also like to make healthy swaps in my pasta by using whole grain noodles instead of regular to add more fiber and protein to the dish. Plus, this pasta dish has no heavy cream.
Italians do not mix cheese and fish. Italians revere the pure taste of the sea, and find it a “crime” to overpower its delicate flavors with cheese.
Seafood is quick to cook, making it very easy to overcook. Tough or chewy shrimp and scallops are often a result of overcooking. Cook shrimp and scallops until JUST no longer translucent all the way through.
Let mussels steam in your simmering cooking liquid until they open, about 5 minutes. Any mussels that do not open should be discarded.
TO STORE: Seafood pasta is best enjoyed immediately after preparation, but leftovers can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
TO REHEAT: Reheat gently on stove with a splash of water or broth to keep the pasta from drying out.
TO FREEZE: I do not recommend freezing seafood pasta, as the seafood will not maintain its texture.
More Easy Seafood Dishes
Garlic Butter Shrimp
READ: Seafood Pasta