Low carb seafood linguine uses zoodles, or thin courgette (zucchini) strands, instead of linguine pasta.
Courgettes accompany seafood amazingly well by adding additional flavour without overpowering notes. For me, however, a seafood main course is a meal for special occasions. Read on and you will discover my reservations about eating creatures that live at the bottom of the sea…
You can easily and quickly create linguine from the courgettes by using a simple julienne peeler, which is a peeler that has a toothed blade. No need for fancy tools like spiral machines.
Although it is a simple and easy recipe, there is some preparation time, especially with regards to the fish.
How to prepare the fish
TIP: Wear disposable food-grade gloves: they will give you a better grip and stop your hands smelling fishy for ages.
Mussels should have their beards removed and then, using a wire brush or similar rough surfaced tool, their shells should be scrubbed well. This process is key to ensuring that no debris ends up in your plate and grinds against your teeth as you eat, which is highly unpleasant.
I prefer to de-shell my prawns before cooking them because it makes the dish more enjoyable. Just pull the head off, pinch the feet away, pull the tail off, then take off the shell. Remove the blue/brown bowel and you’re done. It will literally take 10 seconds for each one. No-one likes taking shells off prawns when they are coated in sauce, plus doing so takes time and makes your food go cold. You may well ask why not buy prawns already de-shelled. You can, but while I’m still here in Italy (3 more weeks left before I return to England!) I am truly spoilt by the many varieties of prawns on sale and it is widely accepted that the de-shelled varieties are of lesser quality and not as tasty.
I also prefer to buy whole prawns so I can see if they have both eyes intact. This has become an obsession of mine since watching a BBC documentary on Chinese intensive prawn farming, which showed the females barbarically having one eye removed to make them more fertile. I don’t know about you, but I feel guilty enough knowing that intensive farming causes massive destruction of mangroves and that wild capture involves trawling methods that has devastating consequences for the seabed and its living creatures, so I’d rather feel slightly better and avoid tortured prawns of Chinese origin. To appease my conscience, I cook seafood rarely, even though I absolutely love it, and buy only the very best I can find.
My local fishmonger travels to the Venice fish market at 4am every day and brings back whatever fish from local waters is available that day. He also sells fish from tropical waters, but only if ethically farmed or caught and refuses to stock anything that is not in season. Italy has extremely strict fishing laws designed to prevent overfishing or fishing during breeding periods, so I can’t always find what I want, but that’s fine by me. Back in lovely Kent next month, it will be a different story. If any fishmonger there has similar standards and ethics, please get in touch with me!
The langoustines (scampi) don’t really need anything done. I prefer to cut the long antennae because they often break off during cooking and end up mixed with the sauce, and I hate having to pick them out. So again, this is my choice, you don’t have to do that. Do make sure you cook them whole, as they will infuse more flavour and make the final dish look pretty. Incidentally, beware of the breaded, packaged scampi sold in every supermarket and served traditionally in many eateries along with chips and peas. This terrible example of processed food is most likely a sad mix of lower grade fish combined with bulking additives and coated with a thick, unhealthy batter, even when advertised as ‘premium’ or ‘luxury’.
Calamari are very easy to clean, but there is a technique to learn, so it is best to ask your fishmonger to do that for you. Most fishmongers will oblige if they’re worth their title. With the calamari already cleaned, just run water inside the sack and pull any remaining viscera out. Then pull off the extra thin brown outer layer – the fresher they are the easier it will come off. Finally, use scissors to cut 1cm section across the sack and you will end up with calamari rings. Click on the photo to learn how to clean a squid (same process for calamari). Out of personal choice I also cook the tentacles, which I separate from the head by cutting just below the eyes. Note that I use calamari because they are more tender and succulent than squid, which tend to be rubbery and quite tasteless, especially if previously frozen.
The cleaning part over, it really is just a case of preparing your sauce, throwing everything in the pan and serving a few minutes later.
A sumptuous low carb seafood dish with courgette linguine: who needs pasta anyway?
Strictly speaking, this dish isn’t ideally ketogenic. Yes it is low carb thanks to using courgettes instead of pasta to mimic the linguine, but the fat content is nowhere near high enough for a true keto meal. Which gives me another reason, aside the ethical one, to savour it only as a special, occasional feast and appreciate every morsel.
- 300g raw large prawns, shell on ((best if they are the red Mediterranean variety))
- 300g calamari
- 300g mussels, shell on
- 4 large langoustines, whole, shell on
- 5 anchovy fillets
- 2 courgettes
- handful coarse Himalayan pink salt
- ½ glass white wine
- splash extra virgin olive oil
- 1 knob butter
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 300ml sieved tomatoes
- pint cayenne pepper
- pinch paprika
- sprinkle organic fish stock granules (or ½ stock cube)
- sprinkle ground mixed spice
- ½ chilli, chopped
- 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- de-shell the prawns, pull off the black stringy 'bowel' and rinse.
remove the beard from the mussels by pinching the 'hair' as close to the shell as possible and yanking with a quick sharp movement. scrub clean under running water.
cut the calamari across so as to obtain rings about ½cm wide.
cut off the long antennae of the langoustines and rinse.
leave your prepared fish in a colander to drain.
- slice the courgettes lengthways, using a julienne peeler or similar tool, so as to obtain your linguine.
add water and a handful of coarse himalayan pink salt to a medium sized pan. cover it and put it on the hob on medium heat.
- add oil, butter, garlic, shallot and anchovies to a wok or flat bottomed, round sided pan.
cook on high heat for 1 min.
turn heat down to medium then add tomatoes, fish stock granules, spices and chilli (optional).
simmer on medium-low heat for 10 min, adding 100ml water if the sauce seems too thick.
check and adjust salt or spices to suit your taste.
- add the mussels, stir and cover with a lid; cook for 2 minutes.
add all other fish and stir, turn heat to high and pour in the wine. stir immediately.
keep lid off until wine has evaporated (3-4 min), then put lid back on, turn heat back down to medium and simmer for 15 min, stirring from time to time. add parsley just before end of cooking time.
- add your linguine to the boiling water, cook for 2-3 minutes until al dente and drain.
divide the linguine between two plates, add the fish and fish sauce, and place the langoustines on top.
serve piping hot.
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