Lately two main topics have been dominating my socially engaging conversations: how people spend the Summer months in Italy and the importance of recycling, in the sense of avoiding wasting. Apparently, there is nothing that connects the two, however the dish that I am going to present this week surprisingly links them together.
Spaghetti al nero di seppia (squid ink spaghetti) immediately catches one’s eyes because of the unconventional black glow that comes from the squid black ink used to savor the spaghetti. If you can go past the fact that they are black, you will find yourself adventuring into a culinary experience that you will never forget. With the first bite you will savor that special, concentrated yet very refined seafood taste, which immediately will transport your mind to that magical atmosphere of the Mediterranean coast. If you have been traveling in Italy during the Summer months, you might have noticed that Italians escape from the cities to migrate towards the coast, towards the sea. It’s during those much awaited couple of weeks that the magic happens: people regenerate, fall in love, and relax while sipping on a fresh drink and stocking up on seafood. Spaghetti al nero di seppia is not just a dish, it’s a memory of the fun times spent at the seaside, under the sun, on a golden sand, caressed by a gentle Summer breeze.
Now, dear Reader, you are probably still wondering where the recycling part is in the dish. It’s hidden in the history of the condiment itself. Squids were a common food back in the day in this wonderful, landscape-breathtaking Italian isle called Sicily, however using the black ink to dress spaghetti or linguine was of humble origins. At the time, in fact, people were so poor that they avoided wasting any part of a food source, so the sicilian “massaie” (women that spent lots of time taking care of the house duties, something in between housewives and housekeepers) started experimenting the ink as a condiment.
I love this recipe because it reminds me of my Summers in Italy, and the “sapore di mare” (sea taste) brings me back to the happiness of those Summer nights.
Spaghetti al nero di seppia can either be made with black spaghetti, which means you add the black ink to the homemade pasta so that the spaghetti are actually black, or with regular spaghetti dressed with a black ink sauce. To make it easy for those who don’t like or don’t have time to cook from scratch but would love to indulge in this delicious recipe, I am using the black ink sauce recipe version.
12 oz (350 gr) spaghetti
17.5 oz (500 gr) squids
red pepper if desired
4 tablespoon of Extravirgin Olive Oil
1 glass of dry white wine
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot
2 tablespoon minced parsley
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
0.40 oz (10 gr) di nero di seppia
Mince the shallot and the garlic and sizzle them in a pan with some olive oil. Take the squids, remove the heads, eyes and interiors but keep the ink sacks on the side. Cut the squids in small pieces and add them to the pan with the shallot.
Add the wine and stir the sauce for a few minutes, then you can add, if you like, the tomato paste, salt, red pepper, and the black ink. Turn the gas on low and stir every now and then.
Cook the spaghetti in a separate pan, and when they are ready (if you like you can cook them al dente, tender crisp) drain them and add them to the pan with the squids until they become black.
Spread the minced parsley on top, add a little lemon slice to decorate (and the lemon juice is amazingly complementary to seafood) and serve with a big smile on your face.