Seafood Linguine al Cartoccio (in foil)

Seafood Linguine al Cartoccio (in foil)

Seafood linguine al cartoccio is a fabulous dish to serve to guests! This popular Central-Southern Italian recipe is made with a delicious fresh seafood sauce and pasta, wrapped in foil or baking paper and baked in the oven.

Linguine con frutti di mare al cartoccio

seafood linguine al cartoccio

What is ‘al cartoccio’?

Al cartoccio is the Italian term for baking food in a foil or oven paper packet. This method is used mostly for seafood here in Italy. Probably the most well-known and appreciated of those seafood dishes is spaghetti or linguine al cartoccio (in foil).

seafood linguine al cartoccio

What seafood can you use?

I first ate seafood pasta al cartoccio in Sicily many years ago! It was love at first bite (or forkful) The sauce is made with a mixture of different seafood; usually clams and/or mussels, prawns and/or scampi plus calamari or octopus. Some people add fish, such as red mullet or sea bass. The ingredients depend on what’s fresh and available. Here in Italy, restaurants usually serve seafood pasta with fresh seafood. To make this recipe at home, you could use frozen uncooked seafood. I wouldn’t use canned.

ingredients for seafood sauce on white plate

Once the sauce is ready, the pasta (usually spaghetti or linguine) is cooked very al dente and then mixed with the sauce and everything is enclosed in a foil packet and baked in a very hot oven for 10 minutes. You can make individual foil or oven paper packets or one large one. We like to make individual ones.

mussels cooking in large pot

Some seafood pasta al cartoccio history.

Although I ate seafood pasta al cartoccio for the first time in Sicily, this dish (or something very similar) is popular in Tuscany, Abruzzo, Sardinia, Puglia and, of course, in Campania. All regions with long coastlines and a long history of fishing!

clams cooking in large pan

In fact, spaghetti al cartoccio is a signature dish in the Amalfi Coast, near Naples, where they claim its invention. There, they say a certain Salvatore Cavaliere invented seafood spaghetti cooked ‘al cartoccio’ in 1965, and it became the key menu item of his brother’s restaurant, the Ciccio Cielo Mare Terra. This restaurant is still famous today for this dish and apparently celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy and Marcello Mastroianni have eaten it there!

shrimps and calamari ready to cook in frying pan

However, there’s another restaurant in Naples called Il Bellini, where the seafood linguine al cartoccio is a big draw. Especially as they also claim its invention, saying that the present owner’s grandfather created the dish with 3 other cooks. Certainly Il Bellini is famous for their seafood linguine in foil. Actually they don’t use foil these days, but some kind of vegetable paper!

my Sicilian hubby preparing the seafood

Restaurants don’t like to give out the ingredients of their star plates and I haven’t eaten spaghetti or linguine al cartoccio at either place (much as I’d like to!). So, I don’t know how different their dishes are.  I do know that this is one of the best seafood pasta recipes ever!!

Mussels, clams, scampi, shrimps and calamari cooking in large pot

Foil or oven/baking paper?

We used a double layer of foil for each packet! I say ‘we’ because my lovely Sicilian hubby helped me make this dish. Actually, he did most of the work! When it comes to seafood he’s the boss in our kitchen! Most recipes I found online called for foil too. However, nowadays many people prefer to use foil less than in the past. For this dish, there are 2 schools of thought. Some say foil is better because it really seals the steam in. Others prefer oven/baking paper because they say foil can burn the pasta or the pasta may stick to it.

ready seafood sauce in large pot

Seafood linguine al cartoccio will impress your guests.

Although it takes time to make (mostly to prepare the seafood), this seafood linguine al cartoccio is seriously worth it. Those last 10 minutes the sauce and pasta finish cooking in the oven, make this an incredibly flavourful dish. We used linguine, you can also use spaghetti. But, we like linguine because this pasta is slightly flat and has more surface area. It really absorbs the flavours of the seafood and tomatoes.

one portion of seafood linguine al cartoccio on foil

The other great thing about this recipe is you can prepare it in advance and cook in the oven just before serving. I wouldn’t prepare it days before. However, we have made seafood linguine al cartoccio in the morning and served it to guests for dinner. My guests are always totally impressed by this dish and yours will be too.

4 portions of seafood linguine al cartoccio wrapped in foil

If you do try this seafood linguine al cartoccio recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon Appetito!

Some other seafood pasta recipes on The Pasta Project

  1. La Calamarata; pasta and calamari recipe from Naples
  2. Sicilian pasta with sardines and wild fennel
  3. Spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina recipe from Puglia
  4. Pasta alle vongole
  5. Poached salmon and asparagus lasagna

seafood linguine al cartoccio

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5 from 29 votes
seafood linguine al cartoccio
Seafood Linguine al Cartoccio (in foil)
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins

A fabulous Central-Southern Italian seafood pasta recipe that is not only outstandingly delicious but will impress your guests no end!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Central Italy, Italian, Mediterranean, Southern Italian
Keyword: al cartoccio, baked pasta recipe, linguine, seafood, seafood pasta
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono & Hubby
  • 320 g linguine (12oz) or spaghetti
  • 250 g fresh mussels (9oz)
  • 250 g fresh clams (9oz)
  • 200 g fresh shrimps or prawns (7oz)
  • 200 g small squid (7oz)
  • 8 fresh scampi (2 per person)
  • 300 g tomato pulp (10 oz) or peeled sauce tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 shallots peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 glass brandy or white wine
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the seafood
  1. Clean the mussels well, scrub and rinse them under running water and remove the ‘beards’. Discard any that are broken or open.

  2. Wash the clams in cold water and remove any that are open or with broken shells. Some kinds of clams need a lot of rinsing if they have sand in them. But you can also filter the liquid after you have precooked them, so don’t worry so much about the sand.

  3. Clean and prepare the fresh squid. Pull the tentacles away from the body. The tentacles, head and innards should separate easily from the body. Remove the quill from inside the body and discard. Clean the body by running it under a tap or cleaning it in a bowl of water.

  4. Remove the 'ears' from either side of the squid body and remove the skin with your fingers. (optional we don’t do it with very small squid)

  5. Cut the tentacles just below the eyes, be careful not to cut the ink sac which is located near the innards. Remove the 'beak' at the base of the tentacles. Discard the head, innards and ink sac (although the latter can be used for squid ink pasta!)

  6. Cut the squid body into rings and the tentacles into small pieces if you want to use them.
  7. Wash the prawns/shrimps. Remove the head, legs and main body shells from some of them, leaving the tail. Also remove the vein along the peeled prawns’ backs. but keep some intact. They impart a better flavour and make the dish look more attractive.

  8. Wash the scampi. We didn’t peel them but just cut along the scampi undersides to make opening them easier. 

Make the sauce
  1. Put the clams in a deep frying pan and cook covered over a medium to high heat until they have opened. (about 5 minutes). Do the same for the mussels separately.

  2. Allow the shellfish to cool a little and then remove the meat from most of the shells keeping some intact. Discard the empty shells and then filter the liquid that the clams and mussels have produced through a muslin cloth or very fine filter. Don't discard it and keep the 2 separate.

  3. Chop the peeled garlic, the peeled shallots and the parsley finely.

  4. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it starts to boil add the pasta. You probably don’t need salt as the seafood will already be a little salty. 

  5. Heat the olive oil and the chopped garlic cloves and shallots in a large deep pan, add the squid, scampi and prawns and cook for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with the wine/ cognac and let the alcohol evaporate. We used cognac and flambéed it! But that is optional!

  6. Add the tomato pulp or peeled tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the mussels and clams (shelled and with shells) and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes. To prevent the sauce from drying out too much, add some of the previously filtered cooking juices from the clams first and then the mussels. (The clam juice tends to be more flavourful) 

  7. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

  8. Cook the pasta less than or half the time for al dente according to the instructions on the packet. Then drain it.

  9. Add the drained pasta to the pan with the sauce, mix well and place a single portion of pasta and seafood on a rectangular double sheet of baking paper or aluminum foil about 50cm long. Close each packet well and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 

  10. Serve your seafood linguine al cartoccio sprinkled with parsley in the individual foil packets. Of course, you could put it into a plate but half the fun is eating it out of the ‘cartoccio’. Remember to provide napkins, finger bowls and a bowl to put the shells etc.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be made with linguine or spaghetti.

You can use a variety of seafood, depending on what is available. Even with just a shellfish and prawns this recipe is delicious!

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seafood linguine al cartoccio

Seafood Linguine al Cartoccio

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  • Avatar
    May 3, 2020 1:00 pm

    Thanks Jacqui for a great recipe. Made it today with clams and prawns, wrapped in baking paper parcels. Are there other Italian pasta dishes apart from seafood that are traditionally made in this way (parcels)?

    • Jacqui
      May 4, 2020 8:06 am

      Hi Kamilia, thanks for your comment. I’m so glad you liked this recipe. Most pasta dishes baked in foil or paper parcels that I know are similar to what you made with seafood and long pasta. However, there are a couple of other recipes that are often made al cartoccio. One is pasta with saffron and pancetta (the baked version is usually made with penne) and the other La calamarata (calamari shaped pasta with calamari). I have versions of both these recipes on my blog but not the al cartoccio version. However, you could certainly try them out by cooking the pasta a little less and finishing off in the oven in paper parcels. Apart from pasta, Italians often bake whole fish like bream (orata) or sea bass in parcels.

  • Avatar
    December 29, 2019 1:01 am

    tried to write a long comment, but the platform cuts somewhere :))
    Receipe is amazing, did search for it for the last 15 years, after trying it in Sardinia in 2004. Today was lucky
    Thanks by heart ! Happy 2020

    • Jacqui
      December 29, 2019 6:39 am

      Thank you for your comment Martin! I’m really happy to hear that you really liked this recipe and it’s what you have been searching for since visiting Sardinia! I agree it’s amazing! Seafood pasta al cartoccio is definitely one of my favourite ways to eat seafood pasta!

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  • Avatar
    Stephanie Simmons
    April 28, 2019 2:26 am

    I’ve made foil packets before but none of them looked as good as this one! Holy delicious batman!

  • Avatar
    April 27, 2019 11:12 pm individual portions in a foil paper sounds great. Can I know if this can be done in banana leaf too instead of foil?

  • Avatar
    April 15, 2019 11:55 pm

    Delicious! What other “in-foil” recipes do you have? I have recently discovered that I really enjoy cooking in foil, so I can imagine how flavorful and delicious the linguine should be! I would love to try them all!

  • Avatar
    April 15, 2019 11:52 pm

    This seems like a fabulous recipe for anyone in love with seafood. And pasta, of course! Definitely something I would love to try!

  • Avatar
    April 15, 2019 8:54 pm

    I love that each guest can have their personal seafood linguine al cartoccio and that you can make it ahead of time!

  • Avatar
    April 15, 2019 3:11 pm

    It is good to learn about a new term here, al cartoccio. It must have tasted really delicious with pasta.

  • Avatar
    Maman de sara
    April 15, 2019 12:40 am

    This sea food pasta looks fancy and delicious. The fun part is eating this dish in the foil.

  • Avatar
    Karyl Henry
    April 14, 2019 1:15 am

    Wow, I’ve never thought to make seafood pasta in foil before! What a genius idea. Next time I get some fresh shellfish I will be making this for sure

    • Jacqui
      April 14, 2019 11:22 am

      I’m sure you’ll love making pasta with seafood this way Karyl! It’s very popular in Southern Italy!

  • Avatar
    Emmanuella Sjögren
    April 13, 2019 9:32 am

    Am drooling as am writing this comment. I love shelfish pasta and this recipe sounds incredible.

  • Avatar
    Jeannette (Jay Joy)
    April 13, 2019 9:12 am

    I love you used a double layer of foil for each packet. I am sure you could have easily stopped at making it in the pan. However, making them individually sized and in the oven probably tastes amazing.

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    April 11, 2019 12:07 pm

    I’ve never seen pasta being prepared like this, but I am loving it! There’s something about a foil dinner that seems so much more Spring and Summer-like. Fantastic recipe!

  • Avatar
    Jere Cassidy
    April 11, 2019 3:07 am

    As always this dish looks amazing and I can only imagine all the great flavors.

  • Avatar
    Jenni LeBaron
    April 11, 2019 12:09 am

    This sounds absolutely delicious. I love fresh seafood in pasta, its the perfect summer dish. The fact that these are served in foil make them a great dish for dining on the back patio on a warm evening!

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 7:09 pm

    Ooh! I love seafood pasta – especially with clams or mussels! I haven’t heard of the foil method, but I love that you can prep it ahead of time. It looks so easy and delicious!

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 6:54 pm

    wow, this pasta is a feast! Has so many good ingredients and who doesn’t love fresh seafood and a lovely pasta, those prawns look fantastic.

  • Avatar
    Shashi at SavorySpin
    April 10, 2019 6:53 pm

    This looks like such a flavor packed dish – and thanks for explaining what al cartoccio means!

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 6:39 pm

    Pasta and seafood are two of my swoonworthy favorites. Pairing them together sure makes this a spectacular dish!

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 6:32 pm

    Oh my goodness!! This was such an informative post. I have yet to really get into the cooking in foil trend, but I can only imagine how tender it makes the seafood!

  • Avatar
    Andrea Metlika
    April 10, 2019 6:26 pm

    Oh my, I’m drooling over this recipe. Love Seafood and Pasta together!

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 5:55 pm

    We love seafood and this would be the perfect recipe to treat my husband on his birthday.

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 5:23 pm

    This is always my husband’s order at an Italian restaurant if it is on offer. Definitely going to have to try making it at home.

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 5:20 pm

    This was great, lovely seafood recipe! Will definitely be making again because everyone loved it 🙂

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 4:17 pm

    I’m loving this new foil pack trend for cooking! It makes everything taste so amazing, and I can’t wait to give this recipe a try!

  • Avatar
    April 10, 2019 3:34 pm

    I love this medley of seafood! There’s something about fresh seafood that feels so spring-like. I can’t wait to make this pasta this week. Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar
    Gloria | Homemade & Yummy
    April 10, 2019 2:40 pm

    What an interesting way to prepare pasta. This would take camping cooking to a whole new level. I need to give this a try.

  • Avatar
    Heidy L. McCallum
    April 10, 2019 1:32 pm

    I made this for my Grandmother the other day and she really enjoyed this. I followed your instructions to a T and it was wonderful. Thanks for sharing another great tried and true recipe. I will be making this more frequently.

  • Avatar
    Danielle Wolter
    April 10, 2019 1:03 pm

    this looks just incredible. I have a huge weakness for seafood and pasta together. love this recipe!

  • Avatar
    Helen of Fuss Free Flavours
    April 10, 2019 12:50 pm

    I love the idea of all the delicious fresh seafood together, served with tasty pasta. This kind of dish reminds me of real Italian food, and to be able to make it in my own kitchen would be wonderful.

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