Capesante might sound like a high holy day of the Roman Catholic Church, but they’re actually scallops. Who knows whatever real or mythical event might have inspired the shape of this pasta, but it’s called strozzapreti, priest stranglers. This recipe for Strozzapreti con Capesante was given to me by Massimo Riccioli, chef and owner of the exclusively seafood restaurant La Rosetta, one of the select restaurants in my book Flavors of Rome.
Like all recipes you might be lucky enough to wrest away from their Italian creators, measurements are non-existent. The closest they come to telling you how much you need is “quanto basta” which means as much as you need; or maybe they’ll say “una manciata”, a handful (whose hand?), and so it was left for me to figure out.
The following is my riff on Massimo’s composition:
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 small peeled garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 # scallops, dice about 6 into small pieces, leaving remainder whole
1/4 cup white wine
2-4 tablespoons vegetable broth
caciocavallo cheese *
1. Bring at least 5 quarts of water to boil in a large pot.
2. Using a mortar or food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and lemon juice. Process into a paste.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic in non-stick skillet. (Do not allow garlic to brown.)
4. Add whole scallops to skillet. When they’re beginning to brown, add the chopped scallops and stir to prevent sticking.
5. Remove garlic, turn heat to high, and add wine. When wine has evaporated, add a few tablespoons of vegetable broth and stir. Taste and add salt if needed. Turn off heat.
6. When water reaches a boil, add salt and then pasta, and cook to al dente.
7. Drain pasta and add to scallops in skillet along with the basil paste, mixing well.
8. Plate the pasta before adding shavings of caciocavallo cheese* and fresh basil leaves for garnish.
* If, like me, you live where it’s impossible to find caciocavallo, a mild provolone is an acceptable substitute.
Recipe serves 4.
Photo courtesy of Flavors of Rome