This Linguine with Squid & Its Ink from Molto Gusto by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner is one seriously sinister-looking plate of pasta. It's dark and murky and once the little slices of calamari are dressed with the squid ink sauce, it's virtually impossible to tell the squid apart from the pasta by sight alone.
Before enjoying your pasta, you must overcome two hurdles: first is sitting down a plate that sports a color palette not associated with everyday eating. The second is getting your hands on a jar of squid ink. I tried about seven different specialty shops before I found mine. Here are some available online.
Once you've assembled all of your ingredients, this pasta comes together in a way that's not all that different from a simple spaghetti with clam sauce or aglio e olio. Garlic is sautéed in a bit of olive oil, wine is added and reduced, the calamari is cooked until just tender, and finally the squid ink is added. The dish is finished with a healthy squeeze of lemon and a handful of chopped parsley for brightness.
The flavors are really wonderful—acidic and rich—and taste of the sea without being too seafoody. Just a quick warning though, eat this pasta only with those who you feel truly comfortable around. There's no way to enjoy it without black-stained lips.
Win Molto Gusto
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Molto Gusto to give away this week.
- Kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 pound cleaned calamari
- 2 tablespoons squid ink
- 1 pound dried linguine
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 lemon
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 3 tablespoons kosher salt.
Meanwhile, combine the oil and garlic in another large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and boil until reduced by half. Add the calamari and cook, stirring, until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the squid ink and remove from the heat.
Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauce, stirring and tossing over medium heat, then cover and steam together over low heat for 2 minutes. Add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce, stir in the parsley, and add a squeeze of lemon juice, or to taste. Serve immediately.