A Seafood Bolognese?
By definition, a seafood Bolognese makes no sense. According to culinary tradition, a Bolognese sauce is meat-based, and it’s referred to as ragu’ in Italy. It reflects the cuisine of Northern Italy. This part of Italy is more fitted to support livestock and wildlife with its green pastures and woodlands. Also, the North borders Austria and France influence what they prepare.
As I said, there’s no meat in this recipe. Instead, a fresh seafood selection has been used which is a staple of the cooking of Southern Italy. Their selections reflect a Mediterranean diet. The pasta is also more varied as to size and shapes. Because Bologna is located between the North and the South, it would make sense that both areas would be represented in a recipe.
My recipe is based on one by Larry Kanter in Food and Drink (December 2017) entitled Bolognese by the Sea. The three ingredients that make it unique are the pasta (lumache), pickled hot Italian peppers, and the optional grated battarga. All were available online.
Because I wasn’t able to get shrimp with the heads still on, I thought my seafood stock was a bit thin. I replaced some of the water with clam juice and Chardonnay. I also sautéed the shrimp shells in some butter/oil along with coarsely chopped garlic and shallots. This caramelized the shells which added more flavor to the stock.
It’s Busy But Worth the Effort
Many of the Italian recipes I’ve tried in the past were quite simple. Not so with this one. You can take some shortcuts, but I wouldn’t recommend this approach. I know it’s busy, but all of the effort is worth it.
You may be concerned about the consistency of the liquid in the dish. It might appear a bit watery, but each taste is full of flavor. It’s best eaten in a bowl with a spoon. Serve this with a good baguette so you can mop up every delicious drop. It is colorful and very tasty, but still understated and homey. We pair it with a nice zinfandel. For my recipe click on Bolognese and scroll down past the narrative.
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