Boldly Visual and Aromatic: All-Natural Squid Ink Pasta
In order to have avoided the truism “we eat with our eyes first” you must have been living under a rock for the past ten food-TV-filled years. But, just because it’s a cliché doesn’t reflect negatively on its accuracy.
Squid ink pasta is a prime example of a product that has taken a staple and made it into something attractive and whimsical. Outside of tiny flecks of black pepper or the occasional bean dish, we almost never see black food on our (savoury) plates. That means that this pasta presents a unique opportunity to develop interesting colour contrasts with other ingredients.
At this point in the year I think that bright-red cherry tomatoes and vibrant-green kale are great candidates as supporting actors.
As well as the eye-opening hue, the squid ink also adds a gentle, briny salinity. It’s best to take this into account by salting your pasta water a bit less than you normally would, and briefly soaking other salty ingredients you might be using like anchovy fillets, feta cheese or salt-cured olives.
Dinosaur kale, which is also known as Tuscan kale, Lacinato kale, or cavolo nero has a marginally sweeter flavour and finer texture than regular kale. If you grow your own or can find some at the farmers’ market it’s best for this dish to pick ones that are more delicate and immature. If you can’t locate dinosaur kale, curly kale can be substituted instead, but should be blanched for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water.
Cheese and almonds lighten the color palette of this plate, but I think they also do a great job of turning a pasta dish into a quick meal, will keep it still vegetarian.
Squid Ink Pasta w/ Cherry Tomatoes and Dinosaur Kale
- 1 package (250 g) Morelli black squid ink linguine
- 1 small bunch dinosaur kale
- 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes,
- 1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 basil leaves, minced
- 5 TB good-quality olive oil, divided
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the past and cook for one minute less than the package instructs. Stir occasionally so that it does not clumped together.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan, set over medium heat. When the oil just barely begins to shimmer, add the almond pieces and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until golden brown and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Boost the heat to medium-high and immediately add the cherry tomatoes to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have given up some of their liquid and have taken on a bit of colour. This should only take about 2 minutes. Add the kale and stir to coat in the hot oil.
4. Reduce heat back to medium-low and add the garlic and basil to the pan. At this point, the squid ink pasta should be almost ready to transfer into the pan. Don’t drain the pasta water away. Actually, try to bring about 2 tablespoons of it to the sauté pan along with the linguine. Depending on what tool you use, you may need to spoon a bit of extra water from the pot into the pan.
5. Add the rest of the olive oil and stir vigorously to emulsify the pasta water and oil together. The starchy water will help with this and you should only really need to move the noodles around the pan to get them to act as a natural whisk for the liquid.
6. Serve in a large bowl with crumbled feta on top – and have a bit of extra cheese on the side for diners who like to add their own.
Serves 2 – 3 as a main course or 4 – 5 as a first course.
About Morelli Pasta:
For five generations, the Morelli family has created unique pastas that are free of preservatives and colouring agents, using handcrafting techniques for more than 150 years. What sets Morelli apart from other traditional pasta makers? Morelli re-incorporates the wheat germ into the pasta during the production process. This gives the dry pasta an aromatic smell that is released upon cooking, and a finished product that tastes fresh-made.