The holidays are well behind us, but there’s still time to celebrate the season—oyster season, that is. And while it’s hard to go wrong with a dozen on the half shell for happy hour or bushels steamed over the fire at an oyster roast, chef Joe DiMaio, of the Darling Oyster Bar in Charleston, South Carolina, works the bivalves into a standout seafood pasta, complementing the oysters’ briny goodness with bacon, celery root, capers, and citrus. Once the ingredients are chopped and the pasta cooked, the dish comes together quickly—perfect for Sunday supper or a decadent weeknight meal. “Pasta water may be the most important ingredient in this dish,” says DiMaio. “The water becomes starchy once the pasta is cooked in it, which helps thicken the sauce.”
(Makes 4 servings)
1 lb. spaghetti
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 oz. celery root, small-diced
1 tbsp. capers
2 tsp. garlic, minced
4 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
½ cup fresh lemon juice
Reserved pasta water, as needed
32 oysters, shucked
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
Fresh-ground black pepper
Breadcrumbs and parsley, for garnish
In a large Dutch oven, bring six quarts of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside, reserving 2-3 cups of the pasta water.
Pour oil into sauté pan—just enough to cover the bottom—and heat over medium.
Add celery root, capers, and garlic. Watch the heat—you don’t want to brown the garlic at all. Reduce temperature if needed. Gently cook for one minute. Add bacon.
Deglaze pan with lemon juice, adding a few splashes of pasta water—this is the beginning of the sauce, so you don’t want the lemon juice to evaporate entirely. You should have around a half-inch of liquid in your pan.
Add cooked pasta and oysters, and turn the heat up slightly. As your sauce begins to reduce, add butter and a dash of pepper, tossing to incorporate. Simmer until the sauce has reduced enough that it coats all the noodles. It should not look greasy or oily. If needed, add a few more splashes of pasta water to the pan to help keep the sauce together.
Serve immediately, garnishing pasta with breadcrumbs and roughly torn parsley leaves. The pasta should already be seasoned, and the oysters are naturally salty, so this dish really doesn’t need salt.
Recipe from chef Joe DiMaio of the Darling Oyster Bar in Charleston, South Carolina