One common misconceptions about Italian cooking is that Italian women – or men – spend many hours in the kitchen. While it’s true that it takes 5-6 hours to prepare a traditional Neapolitan ragú or that an eggplant parmigiana could take up to 2 hours, yet most everyday dishes don’t take more than 30 minutes. Usually, I don’t know what will be at the dinner table until after my daily visit to the market; once there, I let the produce, meat, and fish talk to me. Simple, fresh ingredients require simple, quick preparation.
If you only have 20 minutes, I will share with you how to prepare an easy dish that is perfect for a family dinner yet, so rich in flavor that it would surely impress your guests. Capesante and gamberi in guazzetto, that is “Scallops and shrimps in . . . guazzetto“! The word “guazzetto“, pronounced gwahts-TZET-to (don’t you love the sound of it?) doesn’t have an exact translation but it refers to the fish that is “splashed” with a light creamy sauce. Just trust me, it is buonissimo!
My Capesante e Gamberi in Guazzetto
Ingredients for 4
8-12 sea scallops
12-16 large shrimps peeled and deveined (I like to keep the tail on. Also, if you are using head-on shrimps, remove and reserve the heads)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided in 1/3 (you might need an extra tablespoon)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon capers
1/3 cup Marsala or dry white wine (your preference, I like the sweetness of Marsala)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional red pepper flakes
Cut each sea scallops in half horizontally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with flour, and shake off the excess. Do the same with the shrimps.
In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until sizzling and add the shrimp in one layer.
Allow the shrimp to turn pink-brown on 1 side without moving them, then turn and brown lightly on the other side – 3 to 4 minutes total.
Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the scallops: heat two more tablespoon of butter until sizzling and add the scallops in one layer.
Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to turn light brown on 1 side without moving them, then turn and brown on the other side – 3 to 4 minutes total.
Remove from the pan and set aside. Melt the rest of the butter in the pan with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the shallots, capers, and parsley and sauté for 2 minutes. If you would like a little heat, add some red pepper flakes. If you have reserved the shrimps’ heads, add them to the pan and let them cook for few minutes while pressing with a fork to release the juice.
Add 1/2 of the wine cook for 1 minute. If you used the shrimps’ heads, spoon them out now and discard.
Add the scallops and shrimp and gently toss the seasonings with the scallops (add a little butter if necessary – I did). Add the wine, let evaporate, cook for 1 minute.
Lastly add ½ of the cream gently tossing with the shrimps and scallops. Taste for seasoning.
Plate the scallops and shrimp. Add the remaining cream to the pan and stir to blend with the seasoning.
Spoon the creamy mixture over the shrimps and scallops. Serve hot.
I like to serve this dish with a side of roasted finocchi (fennel) and spinach in lemon-garlic vinaigrette. A peppery arugula salad would be perfect too.
For the roasted fennel: cut the bulbs into tick slices. Boil in salted water for 5-8 minutes. Drain. Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish. Transfer the fennel to the baking dish, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. With your hands toss to coat the fennel then arrange them in 1 layer. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Bake in preheated oven – 375 degrees – for 20 minutes. They should be fork-tender and golden brown.