I first encountered the combination of squid and white beans in the famous tapas bar Bar Pintxo in the Boqueria market of Barcelona. There, tiny white runner beans are the bed for squid seared on a screaming hot flattop; a sauce of olive oil and the squid's ink gives the whole plate a round, salty tang. In a country of incredible food, it remains one of the best things I've eaten.
Why I Picked This Recipe: With the memory of that dish in my head, I turned to this recipe in David Tanis's marvelous book Heart of the Artichoke. Tanis, who is chef at Chez Panisse half the year and hosts dinners in Paris for the remainder (what a life), has published a couple of cookbook gems in the last few years. In this recipe, the addition of pasta helps stretch it into a full and more economical meal.
What Worked: The flavors and textures worked as well as I'd hoped: the pleasant chewiness of the squid, the smooth creamy beans, and the bold use of fresh marjoram as a major flavor alongside garlic and red pepper flakes. This makes a great bowl of pasta.
What Didn't: I found that ratios of ingredients in this recipe were off. It called for far too much squid than can be cooked successfully on a home burner without crowding a pan. This crowding prevented getting a deep sear on the squid before it become rubbery, which I missed. The way the tentacles get almost crispy is my favorite part of cooking them.
Suggested Tweaks: I've already adapted the recipe below to call for less squid, and to preheat the pan ahead of time so it's as hot as possible before the squid is added. My other suggestion is to squeeze lemon over everything for crucial acidity, and tone down the red pepper flakes to 1/2 teaspoon. Another idea altogether would be to lose the pasta altogether, and simply serve this is a bean salad with the squid on top.
Adapted from Heart of the Artichoke.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
- 1 pound squid, cleaned, bodies slices into 1-inch rings, tentacles chopped, everything well-dried on paper towels
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium cloves garlic, smashed to a paste with salt (about 3 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
- 2 cups cooked white beans
- 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving some pasta cooking water.
When the pasta is about halfway done cooking, heat oil in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over high heat until smoking. Carefully add squid. Season generously with salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and marjoram and stir well. Cook until squid is just cooked through but not rubbery and aromatics are fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add white beans and remove from heat.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt, add the lemon juice, then add some pasta cooking water as needed to moisten the dish. Serve immediately.