squid ink pasta

 

Hi all. I’m still working on those Mallorca photos to share with you, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a recipe inspired from our travels. If I’m being honest, food determines (more than anything else) where Henry and I travel. One of the first things we research before visiting a new place is the restaurant-scene in the area – it gives us an idea of the genre of food a certain region offers. To us, there is no better way to experience a place – its people, its culture, its history – than through its food. That said, it wasn’t a surprise to either of us when we simultaneously suggested to each other that we should visit the Mediterranean for our most recent vacation. We both are major seafood lovers, and still talk about the fresh squid we enjoyed in Positano over our honeymoon there three years ago.

Our trip to Mallorca was a bit more spontaneous and unplanned than our usual adventures. After so much time spent working on our house, we both just needed a purely relaxed vacation – a time to chill on the beach without itineraries or obligations. We didn’t make any restaurant reservations, and we chose to stay in one of the most secluded areas of the island. It proved to be paradise.

Our hotel was situated on the very northern tip of the island, by Cap de Formentor (if you’re familiar with the area). It sat on a beautiful beach that wrapped around a calm bay of some of the clearest waters I had ever seen. A few casual restaurants lined the beach, situated right on the sand and only open during the day. They offered freshly caught seafood, a few simple, undressed salads, and locally cured Spanish hams. We ate squid just about every day – grilled, fried, steamed, and always covered in fresh herbs – and washed it down with a cold glass of cava overlooking the clear Mediterranean waters. It was pure heaven.

One of the days, we ordered what would prove to be our favorite meal of the trip – arroz negro. Over the past few years, black rice has been one of our favorite meals to seek out. We first really fell in love with it at Estela in NYC (if you haven’t been to Estela or haven’t tried their fried arroz negro, do yourself a favor and go). The black rice we had in Mallorca, though, was on another level. The dish was made to order and priced per head, so we ordered a serving for two. After about 30 minutes, our server arrived carrying a large paella pan covered in a white napkin. He removed the napkin table side to reveal a steaming masterpiece – deeply black rice, covered in squid, cuttlefish, and prawns, and a circle of freshly cut segments of lime. It was one of the most beautiful dishes I had ever seen, and one of the most delicious I have ever tasted. It somehow captured every flavor of the ocean – exuding its crisp and refreshing aromas and rich, briny flavors all at once.

While I’m not nearly seasoned enough in Spanish cooking to try to recreate such a masterpiece, I do love to make black pasta at home. So, when the urge to taste the flavors of Mallorca hit us this week, I felt it occasion enough to finish up my latest treasured jar of cuttlefish ink. I took the opportunity to write a recipe so you all could enjoy it as well.

If you’ve never made homemade pasta before, I would really, really encourage you to try your hand at it. It may seem daunting at first, but it is in fact quite simple and makes a world of difference in flavor and texture from the boxed, dried variety. As you continue to make it, it will become second nature – I make it about once a week and rarely with a recipe. I’ve even been dubbed the “Italian grandmother” by friends and family, though I can’t say I have an ounce of Italian blood in me. Though, my stepmom is Italian, so I get honorary Italian status from her 😉

If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can absolutely roll and cut the pasta by hand  – it just takes a bit more love and muscle. And, beyond the pasta dough, this recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare – a quick sizzle of garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, and lemon before adding the squid, which takes all of 5 minutes to cook. It honestly is a breeze. I hope you give it a try and if you do, please let me know what you think!

 

 


 

squid ink pasta

serves 4

Rich and briny, this pasta captures the flavors of the ocean. It’s served in a garlic, lemon sauce with a bit of basil and red pepper flakes and topped with tender rings of squid. It might be simple, but it makes a big statement. 

 

For the pasta dough:

2 cups (250g) all purpose or 00 flour

2 large eggs + 1 yolk

2 – 3 teaspoons olive oil

4 teaspoons (24g) squid or cuttlefish ink

pinch of salt

 

For the squid + sauce:

¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves

1 lemon, halved

4 – 6 whole squid, cleaned

½ teaspoon salt

crusty bread, for serving

 

To prepare the pasta dough: add the flour to a large work surface and form a mound. In a small bowl, stir together the eggs, yolk, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, squid ink, and a pinch of salt with a fork until well combined. Make a well in the center of the mound of flour and carefully pour in the squid ink mixture. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the wet mixture, starting with the inner edges and working outward, until a shaggy, sticky dough starts to form. At this point, knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes, until completely smooth. Your dough should be dry enough that it does not stick to your work surface, but not so dry that it doesn’t form a nice, smooth dough. If you find your dough to be too dry, add an extra teaspoon of olive oil. If your dough is too wet, you can also add more flour, just a sprinkling at a time. Once your dough is smooth, wrap it tightly in plastic and allow to rest at room temperature for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Once rested, unwrap the pasta dough and cut into quarters. Lightly dust a large work surface with semolina flour. Starting with the widest setting on a pasta roller, pass the first piece of dough through the rollers. Fold the dough in thirds, like a letter, and pass it through again. Repeat one more time. Decrease the width of the rollers by one notch, and roll the dough through again. Continue in this method, decreasing the width by one notch each time, dusting the dough with flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the machine, until very thin (I like to finish with setting 7 on the Atlas pasta machine). Lay the rolled sheet of dough on top of the semolina flour-dusted surface. Roll the remaining 3 sheets of dough and arrange them side by side over the semolina flour (do not allow them to overlap, as they will stick to each other). Let rest.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once warm, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic slices and crushed red pepper. Let sizzle in the pan until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the basil. Squeeze the lemon juice from the halved lemon into the pan, and add the halves as well. Let simmer for 1 minute. Add the squid bodies and tentacles to the pan and cook, flipping once halfway through, until just cooked, but not tough, about 5 minutes total. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the squid to a cutting board. Slice the squid as desired (I like to cut the bodies into slices to form rings, and leave the tentacles whole).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Feed the sheets of pasta through a spaghetti cutting attachment on your pasta machine (or cut by hand, if desired). If the sheets have dried too much to feed through the machine, just cut the very end off with a knife to form a fresh edge. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer the pasta to the sauce in the pan and add the squid. Toss to coat the pasta and rewarm the squid. Drizzle with an extra bit of olive oil, if desired, and serve immediately with crusty bread on the side.

 


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