For the first 25 years of my life, I abhorred seafood. All of it. Yes, including lobster. Yes, including shrimp. I’ve written about it before so I won’t rehash it again. Suffice it to say, that through travel and the necessity of eating what’s available/local/good, I got over it. And in the past few months, the amount – and variety – of seafood that I eat has grown exponentially. I just got home from a week in Portugal where, not only did I eat some form of seafood every day, I ate, and loved, octopus, squid, and scallops. My mother wouldn’t recognize the girl who used to cry through meals when a “no thank you portion” of baked cod sat sadly on her plate.
This summer, I’ve been cooking lots of seafood at home, too – perhaps to make up for lost time, or perhaps because it just goes so well with a chilled glass of white wine. To celebrate my newfound love of seafood, I put together a little Italian seafood dinner paired with three La Crema wines. It’s the sort of meal that demands to be eaten outside at the end of a hot, sunny day, when the sun is just beginning to slip behind the trees and the breeze picks up again. It’s also the sort of meal that should be lingered over, with plenty of conversation and several bottles of wine on ice, within arm’s reach. It’s slow food.
The first course is a take on Mussels Bruschetta – sauté fennel and garlic until tender and fragrant, then steam the mussels just until they open. Add a splash of Chardonnay, a handful of tomatoes, and fresh basil and parsley, then serve on top of freshly-toasted bread. Set the toasts out on a tray and open a bottle of La Crema Monterey Chardonnay to kick off the evening. Next, a Salmon Carpaccio served on a salad of spicy greens, a light, refreshing, and elegant summer dish. The carpaccio – like an Italian-style ceviche – relies on juicy lemons and herbs like parsley and thyme to both flavor and “cook” the raw fish. Pair it with a crisp, bright La Crema Pinot Gris.
The main event is a Seafood Pasta with Squid, Clams, and Tomatoes – because in my mind, no Italian meal is complete without pasta. Wide rough-cut noodles of eggy pappardelle tossed with flash-fried squid, steamed clams, and fresh tomatoes make a simple and delicious main. If you have the time to make the fresh pasta yourself, do it. The ritual of making pasta at home – cracking the eggs into a well of flour; drawing the tines of a fork through the mixture until it is no longer eggs and flour but a dough; slowly kneading the dough until it’s soft and pliable; rolling the dough into thinner and thinner sheets; folding and pressing and re-rolling; cutting the sheets into thick noodles; hanging them to dry on wooden dowels – takes time and love but it’s so worth it. With the pasta, serve your last bottle of wine, a chilled, buttery La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by La Crema. All opinions are honest and my own.