Pasta with Seafood Chermoula
We are not big pasta eaters at my house, especially since my daughter, Maya, doesn’t like it so much anymore. I think it’s a short phase she’s going through. She’s smart enough that I’m confident she will come back to her senses soon. What’s not to like about pasta. Food simply couldn’t take a happier form.
For a long time, as a child, I thought pasta was so good it must be a gift from God. I imagined sticks, twists and butterfly shapes growing on trees for birds and humans alike to enjoy. I was shocked the day I learned it was man-made. Even more so when I learned it wasn’t invented by Moroccans. There had to be some sort of conspiratorial change of historic events that permanently attributed it to the Italians, I was quite sure. How else to explain its omnipresence in our home. A conspiracy theory came in handy for that and was quite entertaining, I must say. It had a bit of a thrilling (and mildly brainwashing) effect on my mind.
Little by little, I started accepting, albeit bitterly, the fact that while we invented couscous and tagine, we absolutely had no claim to pasta, at least not the way it’s known in the Western world. I’ve been determined since then to make a Moroccan version of pasta, one that I could claim for my country, if only to to please the very biased little girl in me who thinks that all good food was either born in Morocco or somewhat, somehow influenced by Moroccan flavors.
And that’s how this pasta recipe came about.
Multi-Grain Spaghetti with Seafood Chermoula
For the pasta
2 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
10 ounces multi-grain spaghetti
For the seafood chermoula
1/2 pound salmon, cut into bite-sized cubes
1/2 pound medium shrimp or scallops
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
6 to 8 garlic cloves
16 sprigs cilantro, plus more for garnish
3 limes or lemons, divided
1 large tomato, diced
Grated parmesan cheese, optional
Place the bay leaves and salt in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook it according to package directions. Drain.
Meanwhile, place the salmon and shrimp or scallop in a large skillet. Make the chermoula by processing the paprika, cumin, pepper, salt,olive oil, garlic, cilantro and juice of 1 lime in a food processor until it becomes a smooth marinade. Add the chermoula to the seafood and place the skillet over medium heat. Cook the seafood in the chermoula, turning it occasionally, 7 to 10 minutes.
Add the pasta and toss to combine the flavors. Remove from heat. Add the diced tomato, juice of remaining 2 limes and about 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley and toss. Serve immediately, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, if you wish.