Homemade Squid Ink Pasta with Bottarga
This dish may look exotic but its taste is as down-home as it gets, especially if you live on the Italian seaside.
You’ll never see a more forlorn, lost little boy than my husband on a rainy day. Being stuck indoors is the ultimate punishment for my outdoorsman who’s normally out of the house and on his bike by 8:00 am most days.
Me? I love being active outdoors, too. In fact, after a four-year cycling hiatus, I’m happy to be back out there pedaling with my husband again. That said, I am also perfectly content just putzing around my garden with my succulents. It’s a hobby that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three years and I now have enough planting beds and potted arrangements to keep me busy year-round. (If you’re on Instagram you can see my garden at @thesucculenthobbyist.)
After a spring, summer and fall spending most of my days being busy in my garden, the occasional rainy days we’ve had this winter have been welcome, too. What’s not to love about being toasty in front of the fire or waiting for something comforting to come out of the kitchen? But, like my husband, I’m not one to sit around for very long so I’m usually happier being busy.
The last rainy day we had I spent making pasta. The hands-on exercise is a therapeutic activity for me–the mixing of the egg and flour with a fork, then the kneading, rolling and cutting. It’s the kind of Me time I relish and one that instantly puts me in zen mode as soon as I dip my fingers in the wet dough…really, not unlike when I dig into the soil to play with my succulents.
Last week’s pasta-making adventure turned into the recipe I’m sharing today. If you like squid ink pasta and have noticed that it’s not a common item in most Italian restaurant menus you’ll be pleased to know that it’s very easy to make at home. Firstly, you will come across two types of squid ink pasta dishes in restaurants: 1. those that are made with regular pasta tossed in a squid ink sauce, black and rich in all its briny glory; or 2. those simply prepared with olive oil, garlic and seafood (usually clams, octopus, squid or shrimp) but with pasta that has been infused with a little squid ink to give the pasta its appealing black color. I’m sharing a version of the latter here.
What I’ve done that is a little more unusual, at least from what I see at my local Italian restaurants, is to skip the squid, clams, shrimp or octopus. I’ve added bottarga instead.
Bottarga is made of cured fish roe (typically mullet) and is common in Sardinian cuisine. In fact, I first fell in love with it during my first visit to Sardinia many years ago. Driving around the beautiful island, hopping from one beach to the next, Spaghetti alla Bottarga was as common a beachfront menu item as burgers and fries are here at home. I couldn’t get enough.
Mildly salty, just a touch briny, a little goes a long way and I couldn’t think of a better pairing for my homemade squid ink pasta. In Sardinia (or Sardegna) this unpretentious dish is as simple as pasta that’s been tossed in garlic-infused olive oil. Sometimes it’s served with bread crumbs, occasionally with tomatoes. Here I’ve put all these versions together; I roasted cherry tomatoes in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toasted some bread crumbs with more olive oil and some garlic powder. What else was I to do on a rainy day?
If you’re inclined to try this recipe, feel free to skip the tomatoes to save yourself a step but I highly recommend the bread crumbs. An adventurous palate is not a requirement for bottarga; if you like seafood you’ll enjoy it. This dish came together beautifully, not only for my eyes but for my taste buds, too. I hope you feel the same way if you try it.
Visit my other Squid Ink Pasta recipe in the archives: Squid Ink Spaghetti with Shrimp and White Truffle Oil
Homemade Squid Ink Pasta with Bottarga
For the Pasta:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour set aside the 1/4 cup of flour, yields 14 ounces pasta
- 3 eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon squid ink
- 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
- Pinch of kosher salt
To Prepare the Dish:
- 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic sliced thinly
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes roasted (instructions below)
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of one lemon you may only need half
- 1-4 - 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup toasted bread crumbs see note
- Bottarga to taste, roughly 1 -1 1/2 ounces
- Squid ink pasta
- salt and pepper to taste
To prepare the Pasta, follow the instructions on this post. The only difference would be to add the squid ink, salt and olive oil when you make the well and add the eggs to the flour.
Before you cook this dish, your pasta should have been rolled and cut.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a few pinches of salt and cook the pasta. Fresh pasta takes no more than three to four minutes to cook. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and set aside.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant and the garlic is beginning to color, about two minutes. Turn your heat down if the garlic browns too quickly.
Add the roasted tomatoes and lemon zest. If the skillet looks dry, add a bit more olive oil. Cook for one or two minutes.
Add the pasta, a squeeze of lemon juice, half the bread crumbs, half the chopped parsley and toss. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add the pasta water in 1/4 increments to add moisture to the dish and continue to toss. Add more olive oil if it looks dry.
Plate the pasta and shave as much bottarga over the top as you would like. Garnish with more bread crumbs, parsley and lemon wedges.
1. To prepare the tomatoes: slice the cherry tomatoes in half and toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Optional: add a splash of balsamic vinegar before roasting. Roast at 400ºF for thirty minutes.
2. To prepare the bread crumbs: I used Panko bread crumbs for convenience. Toast the bread crumbs in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Stir often to make sure the crumbs toast evenly. You can add a few sprinkles of garlic powder for more flavor. It will take three to four minutes for the crumbs to toast to a golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.