Seafood pasta makes frequent appearance on our dining table because seafood cooks fast and they are really satisfying (in terms of look and in terms of belly-happiness). I’ve shared a creamy velouté and a simple and garlicky aglio olio on the blog before, so this time round I’m back with a tomato-based seafood pasta al cartoccio, inspired by one of favourite bloggers who share plenty of delicious Italian dishes – John from From the Bartolini Kitchens!
Al Cartoccio means “in paper bag” in Italian (correct me if I’m wrong!), and that’s what this seafood pasta al cartoccio is all about – cooked spaghetti tossed with a mixture of tomato sauce (I used my favourite and easy-peasy 4-ingredient tomato sauce) and cream, divided between parchment papers, topped with seafood, wrapped up into parcels and then baked to perfection. I added a bit of bell peppers for some crunch but they can be easily omitted if you don’t want them.
Usually the seafood are cooked in the sauce until they are almost done before being wrapped up with al dente pasta and baked for only about 5 minutes to fuse all the flavours together. But as I’m feeling lazy to whip out another pot to heat up the sauce (my sauce was frozen in containers and then thawed on the countertop), I chose to cook the seafood in the oven together with the pasta instead – I cooked my spaghetti 2 minutes shy of al dente to ensure that it will not become mushy after baking, wrap them up with seasoned raw seafood and baked for about 20 minutes to ensure all the seafood are cooked through.
I really want to say, “Use fresh seafood for best results!” but all the seafood I used here are actually frozen because it’s really hard to get fresh seafood here – but hey, the pasta still turned out delicious so I’m not going to complain! I do hope to try this out with fresh shellfish (clams or mussels) in the future though!
Seafood pasta al cartoccio is perhaps one of the best ways to impress guests, family or your loved ones because they are simple to prepare yet look extremely impressive. Do let your guests unwrap the parcels themselves on the dining table – because who doesn’t love presents and surprises?
P.S. I’m heading for a one-week holiday tomorrow but don’t worry, I have scheduled a few posts while I’m away so you can still see what I had been up to in the kitchen for the past few weeks! If you are interested to find out where I’m headed to, head over to follow me on my Instagram (@foodiebaker)!
|1) Bring a large pot of water to boil (at least 1 litre of water) and season with salt (1 tablespoon per litre of water). Add in the spaghetti or pasta of choice and cook 2 minutes shy of al dente (according to package instructions).||2) Transfer the pasta into a mixing bowl and add in the tomato sauce and cream. Toss to combine. Add in pasta water, bit by bit, to loosen the pasta if necessary.|
|3) Divide the pasta between the two parchment paper and arrange it in the middle. Pour any remaining sauce over the pasta.||4) Divide the sliced bell pepper (if using) on top of the pasta. Divide the seasoned seafood and arrange them on top of the bell peppers.|
|5) Wrap up the parcels (see the recipe for more details) and bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the seafood is cooked and the sauce is bubbling.|
- 160 grams spaghetti (or other pasta of choice)
- 6 prawns, peeled and deveined
- 1 squid, cut into rings or sliced
- 150 grams salmon fillet, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ cups tomato sauce, lightly seasoned
- ½ cup cream
- ½ bell pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
- Freshly chopped Italian parsley, as garnish
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, as garnish
- Dried chili flakes, as garnish
- Preheat oven to 200C / 400F (with or without fan assistance is fine).
- Bring a large pot of water to boil (at least 1 litre of water) and season with salt (1 tablespoon per litre of water). Add in the spaghetti or pasta of choice and cook 2 minutes shy of al dente (according to package instructions).
- While the pasta is cooking, season the prawns, squid and salmon fillet with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
- When the pasta is ready, reserve ½ cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Transfer the pasta into a mixing bowl and add in the tomato sauce and cream. Toss to combine. Add in pasta water, bit by bit, to loosen the pasta if necessary.
- Prepare 2 large pieces of parchment paper - at least 17x15-inch big. Divide the pasta between the two parchment paper and arrange it in the middle. Pour any remaining sauce over the pasta. Divide the sliced bell pepper (if using) on top of the pasta. Divide the seafood and arrange them on top of the bell peppers.
- To wrap the parcels, pick up the long sides of the parchment paper over the pasta until the edges meet. Fold the edges down a few times until the edges are tight over the pasta. Pick up the short sides of the parchment paper, scrunch them up to tie a knot over the pasta, be careful not to tear the parchment paper. Make sure the parcels are sealed so that the sauce will not ooze out during baking.
- Transfer the parcels carefully to a baking sheet and bake in the center rack for 18 to 20 minutes until the seafood is cooked and the sauce is bubbling. Remove the baking sheet and transfer each parcel to a shallow serving bowl and serve them immediately.
- Let your guests unwrap the parcels and garnish with Italian parsley, Parmesan cheese and chili flakes themselves.
- I used frozen squid and prawns as I couldn't get my hands on fresh ones. I've not tested the recipe out with mussels, clams and other shellfish so I'm not sure if they will work the same as squid, prawns and salmon.
- Inspired by From the Bartolini Kitchens (the best place for Italian recipes!)