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.
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.
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).
The Best, Big Skillet
This premium skillet is nonstick with a hard anodized exterior for excellent heat distribution, plus it can be transferred to the oven and has a lid.
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.
- 1 pound mussels
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 12 ounces whole wheat linguine noodles or spaghetti or similar long pasta noodles
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces sea scallops patted dry
- 8 ounces large shrimp peeled, deveined, and patted dry, tails on or off
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 shallot minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or use pasta water or broth
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay or similar seafood seasoning
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley plus additional for serving
Clean the mussels: Put the mussels in a large bowl and cover with cool water. Add flour and with your hands, mix to combine (don’t worry if there are still a few lumps of flour). Let soak for 30 minutes—during this time, the mussels will disgorge any sand. Drain. If the mussels have a “beard,” remove from each with your fingers and scrub away any dirt on the outside of the mussels under running water. Discard any mussels that are not tightly shut. Make sure you have the rest of your ingredients 100% prepped and ready to go.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water (don’t forget!), then drain the noodles*.
In a wide, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the scallops and sear on the first side for 1 1/2 minutes without disturbing, then flip and move them to one side of the pan. Add the shrimp to the now open side of the pan. Sprinkle everything with salt. Continue cooking, flipping the shrimp after about a minute or so, until the shrimp are no longer translucent and the scallops are cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and shallot. Sauté for 3 minutes until the shallot is beginning to soften and brown, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Let cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is super fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the wine, oregano, basil, and Old Bay. Bring to a boil, then add the mussels. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let steam until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Shake the skillet once or twice throughout to move the mussels around. Uncover the skillet and discard any mussels that did not open.
Immediately place the pasta in the skillet with the mussels. Add the lemon juice, scallops, shrimp, and parsley. With tongs, toss and stir until everything is evenly combined, adding some of the reserved pasta water as needed. Enjoy immediately with additional fresh parsley as desired.
*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 in step 6 (I use tongs and put them straight from the pasta water into the skillet). 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.
- 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.
Calories: 642kcalCarbohydrates: 81gProtein: 36gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 124mgPotassium: 671mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 929IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 126mgIron: 7mg
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