Posted by: Catherine | October 15, 2009

Pasta and Seafood Salad with Basil Puree (RR*, The Third Unconfidential Cooks’ Dinner)




(* Reader Recipe)

I introduced Susan after The First and Second Unconfidential Cooks’ Dinners—we met decades ago when we were starting our careers at Glamour. At that time, and I do hate to date myself, The Silver Palate was A Big Deal, and all of us young cooks pretty much learned our way around a kitchen from Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, the authors of the famed books, owners of the original store on NYC’s Upper West Side and gourmet-food packagers/marketers/creators. They were way ahead of their time, making ready-made take-out gourmet food a staple of life in Mahattan. We would search their book(s) for recipes, test them (and our newbie selves!) in our itsy-bitsy  kitchens, serve them to each other…and wish we made enough money to go into the store and splurge on Silver-Palate home cooking after an endless day at work. But we didn’t make enough money! We were on our own.

When Sheila Lukins died last month it was natural that Susan would pick one of The Silver Palate Cookbook recipes for the U-C Dinner in her honor. It was absolutely fantastic, and I’ll be going back to the book yet again.

1 lb. medium-size raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 lb. bay scallops rinsed

2 or 3 small squid, dressed* (optional)

½ lb. pasta of interesting shape (shells, twists, corkscrews, etc)

1 cup tiny peas (defrosted if frozen, rinsed and patted dry if fresh)

½ cup diced sweet red pepper

½ cup minced purple onion

½ cup best quality olive oil

3 to 4 T fresh lemon juice

½ cup Basil Puree (recipe below)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup imported black olives (Kalamata or Alfonso)

Cook the pasta al dente.

Saute a clove or two of garlic in olive oil. Remove garlic and use the oil to sear the seafood (I kept them separate to preserve their flavors but did use the same pan so who knows…) until just done. You’ll have to add a little more oil a couple of times to complete the job.

* To “dress” the squid, cut the body tubes into ½ inch rounds; cut the stringy parts off the tentacles; cut tentacle pieces into small morsels.

Toss well drained pasta with seafood.

Add the peas (no need to cook them), red pepper and onion and toss again.

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and basil puree and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss well to distribute the dressing. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Mound the salad on a serving platter and scatter the olives over it. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate. Allow salad to return to room temperature before serving.

Basil Puree

Process 7 cups washed-and-dried fresh basil leaves (you could substitute 7 cups fresh parsley leaves) and 1 T dried basil, with 3 to 4 T olive oil. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.



  1. OK, I am once again consumed with jealousy and envy. One of these days I will sit at the table with you big girls and share in this dinner!

  2. I have this cookbook. I’ll try the recipe. Looks so yummy.

  3. I will take this dish, thank you very much. Beats the hell outta beans…

  4. This looks incredible! What a great blend of flavors. I need to dig out this cookbook.

  5. What a tasty & lovely salad this is,…so summery too!!

    I love sheila lukins: I have the translated USA coockbook!

  6. This is dinner for a king, absolutely mouthwatering!

  7. What a fabulous seafood pasta salad! Excellent with basil puree!

  8. What a cute story and an appropriate meal to honor her. This pasta salad looks totally delicious. I’d eat this hot or cold- yum!

  9. My mouth started to water as soon as I saw the picture!

    My husband LOVES squid, but I’ve never made it for him, but I could make this for him and I think my whole family would love it!

  10. Wow, what a nice pasta dish…love the green color of the basil and I can only imagine the taste of it…yummie!

  11. We would love this without the fish. I have printed the recipe for a dinner within the next few weeks.

  12. I used to make this salad every summer! Could not find my Silver Palate cookbook that this was in and found you online. Thank God for the internet and thank you for posting this recipe so I could make it again. It tastes like heaven.

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