Italian Seafood Pasta Recipes – Sea Urchin Pasta with Bottarga

by Pamela

seafood pasta, sea urchin pasta, italian recipes, bottarga, relationship advice

Sea urchin, aka uni, is something that’s ordinarily found in Japanese sushi restaurants. I will admit that it’s not commonly found on Italian restaurant menus here in the states, but it is readily available in many coastal towns in Italy. Granted, it’s not called uni but if you see Ricci di Marre you’re looking at a dish with sea urchin in it. Trust me…if you like the taste of the ocean in your food, you’re going to LOVE this dish.

The magazine, La Cucina Italia recently sent me a package of Delverde pasta shapes (and olive oil) to use and create a recipe. Since I’m already a fan of Delverde pasta, this was a relatively easy task. But I didn’t want to do a traditional Italian recipe with tomato sauce and Parmesan. Even though I have a stellar (if my Polish self does say so) sauce/gravy marinara recipe. No, I wanted this to be a bit “more.”

In the past year, I have become more and more enamored with uni (aka sea urchin). This is definitely a recent love affair as I had previously encountered a couple of less than stellar encounters with the orange gonads (yes, they’re sex organs of a sea urchin). If uni is anything less than super fresh, it has an overwhelmingly powerful aroma of fish. Fresh uni just smells like ocean. Yes, there is a difference.

When you go to the beach and inhale deeply, then exhale, do you have a smile on your face? That’s the smell of the ocean. Do you have a face that looks like the one you have after you’ve had too much to drink? That’s a fishy smell (not good). That’s the difference that I’m talking about.

Italian Recipes for Seafood Pasta

I had a few different pasta shapes to choose from, when I decided to make my seafood pasta, and since the sauce was going to be creamy, instead of having actual pieces of seafood in it, I chose the bucatini. Bucatini is the long, spaghetti like, pasta that has a hole in the middle of it. Macaroni Grill used to serve it’s non-alcoholic drinks with a piece of bucatini in them as a straw. What I like about this shape is that it’s good for a smooth and silky sauce (like those found in a seafood pasta) but because of the hole in the center of it, it can hold even more of the rich velvety sauce. (Which means less sauce wasted at the bottom of the serving dish.)

This seafood pasta dish is heavy on the ocean flavor, but light on the amount of actual seafood you’ll find “floating” in it. This ain’t no Red Lobster seafood pasta dish. No, this is a refined and sophisticated seafood pasta dish. I like to think that the pasta in this dish is simply a delivery device for the seafood sauce. Sea urchin pasta is bit more subtle. I chose not to lay pieces of the orange sea urchin over top of the dish (although some do)

Seafood Pasta Recipe

To bring out even more of that oceanic greatness, there’s a mess of bottarga scattered across the top of the pasta. What’s bottarga? It’s fish eggs. Yes, this dish has truly gone the seafood nose to tail route, mostly tail and not so much nose. Bottarga is cured fish roe that traditionally comes from Sardinia (a coastal Italian city). However, it is a Mediterranean product so you will see it coming from other countries� in the Mediterranean as well.

Seafood Pasta

On its own, bottarga makes for a delicious finish to pasta dishes. By adding it as a finishing flourish to a seafood pasta, your seafood sauce will have an even richer flavor, and you’ll also be able to better taste the bottarga. Since the bottarga is cured, it has a bit of a crunch to it (which is a fantastic compliment to the soft and creamy pasta below it) but to kick up the crunch a bit more, I also sprinkled some toasted panko crumbs over top of the dish.

Finish the dish off with a bit of chives and you’ve got a dish that will absolutely wow whomever you are serving this to.

This recipe is posted as an entry in the Delverde DISH YOUR BLOG recipe contest to try to win a trip to NYC.

Italian Seafood Pasta Recipes - Sea Urchin Pasta with Bottarga
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sea urchin is to seafood pasta as clowns are to the circus. This luxurious pasta dish will have you licking the bowl. Don't tell how easy it is to make.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
  • For Pasta and Uni Sauce
  • 1 Pound Delverde Bucatini Pasta
  • 4 Ounces Fresh (sushi grade) Uni
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • ½ Cup Dry White Wine (reduced to ¼ cup)
  • ½ - ¾ Cup Clam Broth
  • ½ Cup Half and Half
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • For Pasta Topping
  • 1½ Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • ½ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Bottarga
  • Chives
  1. Boil pasta according to package directions and set aside.
  2. For Uni Sauce
  3. Add uni and butter to bowl of small food processor or blender and buzz until everything is smooth and creamy.
  4. Scrape pureed uni into medium saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  5. As puree melts, stir in wine, clam broth (start with ½ cup) and half and half.
  6. Continue to stir as sauce comes together and add more clam juice if sauce is too thick.
  7. Add a few grinds of sea salt and stir well.
  8. Whisk egg yolk in a small dish and slowly drizzle in around ½ cup of hot uni sauce (vigorously whisk while you're doing this so that the egg doesn't cook and curdle).
  9. Once egg is mixed with the sauce, whisk it all into the saucepan. Continue to whisk as the sauce slightly thickens.
  10. Turn heat to low.
  11. Heat remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
  12. Once butter has melted, add the panko to the pan and stir to coat with the butter.
  13. Continue cooking until panko is completely coated in butter and has browned.
  14. Remove from heat and set aside.
  15. Add the pasta back into the pot you originally cooked it in and heat over medium high heat.
  16. Pour the uni sauce over the pasta and stir to coat. Continue heating until pasta is just heated through.
  17. Serve pasta in dishes and top with breadcrumbs, grated bottarga and a pinch of crunchy sea salt.
  18. Serve with whole or snipped chives.


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