Frutti Di Mare Recipe

If you're a seafood lover, then stop what you're doing and buckle up for a deliciously satisfying recipe. This frutti di mare recipe by food blogger and recipe developer Elizabeth Chen of Bon Aippetit is an homage to seafood. "I love shellfish," she says. Chen's goal is to share delicious and healthy recipes that don't feel like you're missing out, and this recipe undoubtedly meets those standards. 

In Italian, frutti di mare means fruits of the sea, or, more familiarly, seafood in English. Thanks to Italy's position between multiple seas, the country's cuisine incorporates plenty of seafood. You can be sure that Chen's frutti di mare recipe follows suit.

Chen notes, "There's nothing tricky about the recipe, but there are a lot of steps." To avoid stressing out while coordinating cooking times, "It's best to have all the ingredients prepped in advance and be careful to read every step," she says. A careful read isn't too much to ask, and you will be rewarded by the savory flavors in this frutti di mare spaghetti dish. The abundance of shellfish makes it both impressive and perfect for a dinner party. But this recipe can also turn a simple weeknight dinner into a feast worthy of the Italian coast. 

Gather the ingredients for this frutti di mare recipe

To start, you'll need extra-virgin olive oil to sauté the onion and garlic — it will help tenderize the alliums, creating a rich base. Salt and pepper season the dish, balancing and enhancing flavors. Next, you'll use anchovy fillets to give the tomato paste a complex umami flavor. If you're not sure about the anchovies, take a leap of faith for this recipe — the taste will complement the seafood dish without taking over. 

You will also need finely diced or crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Chen says, "I used Mutti and Cento brand canned tomatoes as they have the cleanest ingredients." She explains that "Cento also has BPA-free cans," which is important to many consumers. 

Fresh basil, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning add nuance to the dish. Chen says, "I used my own blend of Italian seasonings," all of which you can find on her website. If you'd rather skip the step of making your own blend, she recommends using "any store-bought Italian seasoning blend." 

Dry white wine adds depth and pairs well with seafood. And as for the seafood itself, Chen goes all in and opts for clams (about 12 Manila or littleneck will do), mussels (again, about 12), large shrimp, and scallops. Be sure to clean the seafood by scrubbing the clams and mussels, debearding the latter, and peeling and deveining the shrimp. 

Finally, dried spaghetti is ideal for twirling up forkfuls of pasta and seafood. 

Cook the onions and garlic then add the tomato paste and anchovies

Place a large saucepan on the stovetop and add the olive oil, turning the burner heat to medium. Once the olive oil has heated, add in the chopped onion and the crushed garlic cloves. Stir the contents of the saucepan for about five to eight minutes until the onions become translucent. Next, season the onions and garlic with salt and pepper. 

Add the anchovy fillets and the tomato paste to the saucepan and cook for another two minutes. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, break up the anchovies as you stir so that they become evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Mix in the rest of the sauce ingredients

Next, stir in the diced or crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, a quarter cup of chopped basil leaves, red pepper flakes, salt, Italian seasoning, and dry white wine. Raise the burner heat to bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil. Once you see some bubbles, reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for an additional 15 minutes as it thickens. 

Meanwhile, place another stockpot on a separate burner and bring two and a half quarts of water (10 cups) to a boil at high heat to boil the pasta. 

Cook the clams with the sauce then transfer them to a bowl

Once the sauce has thickened, add the scrubbed clams to the saucepan and cook them for eight to 10 minutes until they open. With the help of a slotted spoon or whatever you have on hand, remove the clams from the saucepan and transfer them to a plate. If you notice any clams that remained closed, be sure to discard them as this indicates they were already dead before being cooked. 

Cook the mussels with the sauce then add them to the clams

Repeat the cooking process with the mussels by adding them to the saucepan. Mussels cook more quickly and should be done after three to five minutes. With the help of a slotted spoon, transfer them from the saucepan to the plate with the clams. Again, discard any mussels that failed to open, to avoid getting sick. You can remove the shells of the mussels and clams now if you want, but the dish looks more impressive with them included. 

Add the shrimp, scallops, and pasta

By now your stockpot filled with water should be vigorously boiling. Toss the spaghetti into the pot and cook it for 11 minutes until it is barely al dente. Drain the water, reserving a quarter cup to add to the sauce later. 

Back to your saucepan, raise the heat to bring the contents back to a boil. Add the shrimp and the scallops to the sauce and cover the saucepan with a lid. Remove the pan from the burner and let the shrimp and scallops sit to cook in the sauce for five to eight minutes, depending on the size of your scallops and shrimp. 

Next, bring the sauce back to a boil and toss in the spaghetti and the extra pasta water. Simmer the contents for another two minutes while the sauce thickens some more. 

Serve your pasta topped with the clams and mussels

Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a large serving dish. Season the pasta with salt, pepper, and extra red pepper flakes if you like a spicy kick. Arrange the cooked clams and mussels over the pasta and add fresh basil leaves for an aromatic touch. Be sure to include a mix of shellfish when you serve each portion of spaghetti. 

This delicious frutti di mare recipe is more than complete thanks to the wide variety of shellfish. As such, Chen remarks, "I serve this alone." You could definitely add a vegetable side dish, though. And if you're looking for a light option to finish up your meal, "A sorbet would make a good dessert," she says. You might have to pinch yourself to check that you're not in Italy!

Since this dish is heavy on shellfish, Chen doesn't recommend storing leftovers for more than a day or two. You're better off cooking a portion that you can finish in a single sitting. 

Frutti Di Mare Recipe
5 from 48 ratings
This shrimp, scallop, clam, and mussel pasta recipe is an homage to seafood. Impressive and perfect for a dinner party, it's the best frutti di mare recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
dish of seafood pasta on plate
Total time: 48 minutes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans finely diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¾ cups dry white wine
  • 10 cups water
  • ½ pound small clams, scrubbed
  • ½ pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • ½ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ pound scallops
  • 12 ounces dried spaghetti
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, and stir for 5 to 8 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  3. Season the onions and garlic with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the anchovies and the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes, breaking up the anchovies with a spoon.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, ¼ cup of chopped basil, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of salt, Italian seasoning, and white wine.
  6. Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  7. Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil in a separate stockpot over high heat.
  8. Add the clams to the saucepan and cook them until they open, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Transfer the clams to a large bowl, discarding any that did not open.
  10. Add the mussels to the saucepan and cook them for about 3 to 5 minutes, until they open.
  11. Transfer the cooked mussels to the bowl with the clams, again discarding any that did not open.
  12. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water (not the saucepan) and cook it until it is barely al dente, about 11 minutes.
  13. Drain the pasta, reserving about ¼ cup of the pasta water.
  14. Bring the sauce back to a boil, then add the shrimp and scallops and cover the pan.
  15. Remove the pan from heat and let it sit for 5 to 8 minutes until the shrimp and scallops are just about cooked through.
  16. Then, return the pasta sauce to the stovetop and bring it to a boil.
  17. Add the cooked pasta and the reserved pasta water to the pan, and simmer for about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  18. Transfer the pasta mixture to a large bowl.
  19. Season the dish with salt, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
  20. Arrange the cooked clams and mussels over the pasta and garnish with the remaining fresh basil leaves to serve.
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