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Pirate-Style Spaghetti

Recipes with names like this suggest that the spices and garlic are so strong that only he-men can eat them. The name conjures images of faraway seas, but it is a preparation typical of cucina romanesco, the cuisine of Rome, and the name is a fanciful one. Most of today's well-known Italian pasta preparations, such as this one, have their origins in the 20th century, usually in a trattoria kitchen. Whatever the history, the abundant spicy seafood is very appetizing.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped cleaned raw octopus *
1/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound canned or fresh crushed tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 pound medium-size shrimp, shelled and chopped
1 cup chopped clams
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a small stove-top casserole, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium heat, then add the octopus. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the water and cook for 45 minutes. Any time the juices evaporate, add some more water so that there is always water nearly covering the octopus. Every time you add water, scrape down the sides and bottom of the casserole. Toward the end of the cooking, let the water nearly evaporate.

Meanwhile, in a large stove-top casserole, heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil over medium heat, then cook the garlic and red pepper flakes for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and black pepper and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the shrimp and clams to the octopus, mixing well, then transfer to the tomato sauce. Increase the heat to high and cook for 3 to 4 minutes stirring constantly.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of abundantly salted water to a boil and add the pasta when the water is rolling. Drain when al dente and place in a serving platter or bowl. Pour the seafood sauce over the spahgetti, sprinkle on the parsley and toss well. Serve right away. Makes 4 servings.

* Note: Octopus is available, frozen, at Benkovitz seafoods in the Strip.

"A Mediterranean Feast"
by Clifford A. Wright

Thursday, September 21, 2000

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