Posted by: philipfontana | March 19, 2014

7th PastaPost

Seventh PastaPost

Pasta Portuguese


Phil & Geri



     Excuse us for living, but we have to stop eating like this. No, never! Pasta! And we save these recipes for our famous “Friday Nights.” (See the archives in the right margin, “Friday Night/Recipe Posts.”) Only when we are truly excited about a recipe do we share it with the world!


           Lagos, like many towns along the coast of Portugal, is historically linked to the sea. Fishing in Lagos goes back to ancient times as an important economic activity. More recently, tourism has surpassed the fishing industry. Lagos became most famous by the 15th century as the center of maritime exploration. Lagos was the home port of the famous Prince Henry the Navigator. If you remember your middle school social studies lessons, Prince Henry was most famous for being responsible for the sea explorations around the coast of Africa.

     For this one, the divine inspiration was two dear friends of ours. I worked with the husband of this couple, my teacher friend nicknamed, “Pacheeck.” He is of Portuguese-American extraction. And so through his influence I learned of the wonderful seafood tradition as a staple of Portuguese cooking and culture. We never got around to fishing together, but we did some ocean-going boating from his dockside home on several of his boats over the years.

And so, one Friday Night, almost a year ago, I thought I might come up with a pasta dish with a Portuguese flair. That had to start with fish. I wanted it to have a tangy, fish taste, not too fishy, and be enticing, colorful. Do you remember Sea Legs? Well, don’t fault me, but that’s what I chose! Sea Legs are an imitation crabmeat, or lobster, shrimp, or even scallops, depending on the flavoring added to taste like the desired shellfish. They are made most commonly from Alaskan Pollock. And again, depending on the desired shellfish, red coloring is added which is safe and healthy and gives the Sea Legs quite an appealing look. – – You can substitute Pollock itself for the Sea Legs, if you like, or any firm fish such as Tilapia, Sea Bass, or whatever you prefer. Top of the line would be to shell large crab claws.

The brainstorming continued. Another teacher friend of mine, Al, a wonderful sage of a man who is no longer with us, loved arugula. No, he didn’t love arugula. He worshipped arugula! Why? I have no idea! I’ve had arugula in salad, naturally, or as an entire arugula salad. – – Nice, but nothing to write home about. But Al swore by arugula and pasta as his favorite dish! So why not? If it was good enough for Al to get excited about, why not give it a try? – – Arugula added to the recipe!

Next, my last contribution to this concoction, before I handed it over to the Chef, wife Geri, came from a little Portuguese restaurant in central New Jersey we ate at last year. We had shrimp scampi tasting like it never tasted before. The chef and kitchen there minced the garlic finely but not too fine. Then they braised the garlic in oil, as usual, to a golden brown, not light and not dark. – – just right! And then (I think this is their secret to it all!) they highly salted the garlic like I would never have the nerve to do. But wow, was it good! So I suggested highly salted, minced brown garlic to complete the recipe.

Then, as always, wife Geri worked her magic to turn one of my crazy ideas into a delectable pasta dish. She knows just what to do with my above suggestions. And then she knows just what to add. – – Some ground black pepper, braise some scallions along with the garlic. – – And measurements! How much Sea Legs? How much arugula? I don’t know! I cause all the fuss and Geri turns it into a recipe, a new creation! And so we have “Pasta Portuguese.” And I know I have said this before with other pasta recipes, but not only is this really good, it’s quickly become one of our favorites!



                                                                … Pasta Portuguese


1 cup oil (canola) divided (see below)

1 bunch of scallions (sliced 1/4” thick)

8 cloves garlic (chopped fine but not too fine…see photo!)

1 1/2  tsp. salt

1 1/2  tsp. coarse ground black pepper

3 cups loose packed Baby Arugula

12-16 oz. Sea Legs or preferred fish (see above suggested alternative fish)

1/2  lb. Spaghetti (Vermicelli or your favorite)

1 tbs. salt

3-4 quarts boiling water

Sauté scallions & black pepper in 1/2 cup oil until soft, 4-5 min. Put cooked scallions in a small bowl. Cook spaghetti in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain in colander. Cook garlic in remaining 1/2 cup oil with 1 1/2  tsp. salt until a medium brown color; DO NOT OVER COOK! (see photo!) Add scallions, black pepper oil mixture to pasta, add browned garlic with salt & oil, add Arugula & Sea Legs & toss. (No need to pre-cook Sea Legs. Other types of fish should be pre-cooked.)

Makes 2 generous servings!

 Excuse us for living, but the living goes on with simple pleasures such as this!


     Comments: Please, before or after you try it!


     Sources: Travel Pictures Ltd, Wikipedia



  1. hey phil, thanks for this- My younger brother James class of 66 is married to a portugese girl and they have a penthouse on the beach in Portimao very close to Lagos i go every year we will be there for 3 weeks in September-

    Robert La Bianca / Realtor & Associates BRE # 01320647HomeSmart Professionals Direct 760-567-6365Fax 760-844-7128 47060 Washington Street # 5101 La Quinta Ca 92253!/rlabianca1

    Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2014 15:53:45 +0000 To:

    • Robert, Yes, you had mentioned your brother had a place in Portugal! Didn’t know he married Portuguese!!! Portimao very close to Lagos!!! Penthouse on the beach! And you go every year! And THREE weeks this Sept.!!! No wonder you suggested Portugal to us. Still finishing up on a few of our European list of places. But Portugal sounds more & more like a “must”! Thanks for the comment. You are so much into good food. Let me know if you try this recipe….so basic & simple & you would really know how to substitute for those Sea Legs which you probably hate! Phil

  2. This looks so good but how would taste with Cod…I can’t have any shellfish whatsoever (well I can but you better have the casket right next to me). Wonderful blog! Have my mouth watering.

    • Padre, Wife Geri says Cod would be fine. Just cook it first/separately & then add it to the pasta! Mangia! Thanks! No, don’t eat that shellfish! Phil

      • Phil

        Thank you and thank your beloved wife for me! I’ll try this on Monday! 😀

  3. This looks so great! I can’t wait to try it out! 🙂
    And I loved reading about the brainstorming and all.
    Thanks for sharing Phil! 🙂
    Lots of love and hugz ♥

    • Patty, Thanks! And the Nederlands has a good appreciation for fish cuisine, right? Herring! The brainstorming….just background banter to make it interesting ….or just making a big thing out on nothing! Phil

      • I like the background! 🙂
        It’s very interesting to read and it’s great to see how a recipe grows! 🙂
        Hugz ♥

  4. Reblogged this on petitemagique and commented:
    Another delicious pasta recipe from my friend Phil! Check it out! 🙂 ♥

    • Patty, How very nice of you to reblog on petitemagique!!! Many thanks! Phil

      • You are very welcome! 🙂

  5. Bon Diaz, Senor Phil.
    The meal of piscard and pasta, she sounds a marvelous. My mouth shea be a watering. The Fontana Cuchina. Multi Bueano. Aromas beyond compare. I am quite familiar with the simulated crab meat. Very tasty. The beautiful combination of garlic along with the Magic of Chef Geri. Oh whata meal. The days of boats and dockside existence, another world. I guess you might say, “The Old World”. We had some fun. Beautiful. Springs a day away. Hooray!!! Cold winter here. Lots of turkey chili. Thanks for the cudos as an inspiration. My pleasure and honor. Now out to the store to get some of the ingredients. Only problem, Weezie is a surf type of gal. Turf is my love.
    Take care. Peace, All the Best to the Chef.

  6. Phil,
    MaryLouise does not care for fish. My bad. I Love all types of seafood. She is a BLT burger type of gal. Peace,

    • John, Great to hear from The Pacheeck! Did you see that you were the STAR & inspiration of the post here???!!! Glad the recipe sounds good to you & that you know all about Sea Legs. But as a true Portuguese, I think you would prefer some nice fish of your choice. I knew you liked seafood & Mary Louise did not from our restaurant trips. Yes, great memories of boating! And hope spring truly arrives by temperature soon! If you try that recipe, let us know! And thanks for commenting. Be well to all the Pachecos! Phil

  7. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel.

  8. Nice recipe. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Barbara

  9. Barbara, Many thanks for the comment! Thanks for your interest in this latest post & recipe! Hope you can try it! AND, thanks for the Reblog! I’ll visit you on idealisticrebel!!! Phil

  10. Phil, when does the cookbook come out? I really want to get a copy of it. And you write so well, that the descriptions alone would be worth the price of admission!

    • Chip, Geri & I have a handy file in the kitchen of these recipes & more that we have done together re pasta dishes. We picked titles, seriously, for two books: “Mortal Sin: Pasta Recipes that are Sinfully Delicious,” & “Death by Pasta: More Sinfully Delicious Pasta Recipes You Could Die For” –but actually no plans to publish beyond sharing them with friends. The closest are these “Excuse Us…” PastaPosts which could serve as the beginning of such books. Thanks for the kind words about my writing them. You are too nice. What is there to say about a recipe? So I just tell the simple….I mean SIMPLETON truth about the backstory to each of these. Maybe akin to the Lake Wobegon for pasta nuts!!! And while I have you here if you get back to read this, I must say how impressed I’ve been, what I’ve learned of your activities in life & just some of your life background on Facebook. You are a true Renaissance Man!!! I feel privileged to know you from “way back when” at RU & the RUGC. –And proud that we share a common background serving in Vietnam. Phil

  11. Nominated you for The Bouquet Of Friendship!
    Check out:
    Of course you don’t have to accept an award, just know you’re appreciated!
    Lots of love,

    (yes, I know, but I could not resist! I mean, it’s the Bouquet Of Friendship, and you my friend deserve this!) 🙂

    • Patty, Patty, Patty!!! Many thanks for The Bouquet Of Friendship containing no less than four awards; Sunshine, Lighthouse, Dragon, & Liebster. While I never followup accepting & requirements, you know how much I appreciate your gesture & feel so honored. Thank you. For the record, I am not disappearing, just pulling back, & still following you & your career. To paraphrase YOUR words, “People pass each others way for a reason.” Phil

  12. Phil this is brilliant live the recipe’s and they way you right 😉 you should holiday in Cumbria Uk plenty fishing and great scenery

  13. Brian! Thanks so much! Check out all the pasta recipes under “Friday Night/Recipe Posts,” all favorites we made up!!! Cumbria sounds great! We toured England, Wales, & Scotland April 2012 & maybe were near Cumbria. We went from London west & then north & then east to Edinburgh & back south to London all by bus. Thanks for the comment & reading my blog! Phil

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    • Madison, Many thanks for this nice comment. I DO spend hours writing each post. I’ll check Google! Thanks! Phil

  15. 🙂

  16. Jixi, Oh, try this one! Great recipe, Jixi! Thanks! Phil

  17. Yummy! OK, I will try it this weekend with shrimps 🙂 I am intrigued after the introduction and suddenly I feel like going back to Portugal after reading this post 😀

    • Indah!!!!!!!!! Oh, shrimp! Good idea with this recipe!!! You will love it! One of our favorites!!! I just came from your website. Great 2014 year summary of travel. With SO MANY people commenting, I could not find my comment so I wrote another shorter one! Happy travels in 2015 to you, Indah!!!! Phil

      • Hi Phil, just an update, the pasta was brilliant! We had it with shrimp and I add a bit of Italian dried chili (I like spicy food 😀 ) and it was perfect! Thank you so much for great recipe! (I should take picture of it but I was so hungry that I forgot about it!)

  18. Indah, So glad you tried this recipe & made it your own with shrimp & dried chili pepper!!! You are “something else” as we say!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love your photo! Phil

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