Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Squid Ink Pasta

Laura's sister, Jennifer, came back from Fashion Week in New York with a real treat.  Before leaving the city, she stopped at Eataly, an incredible gourmet Italian market, food court, restaurant, and grocery store on 5th Avenue, across from Madison Square Park.  They were making squid ink pasta and it was tempting enough that she brought it back, in addition to fresh focaccia and prosciutto.

The challenge is what to make!

Fresh squid ink pasta

I do some research on the web and find a recipe from Mario Batalli's flagship restaurant, Babbo, "Babbo's Black Spaghetti with Rock Shrimp and Spicy Soppressata."  Although we've dined at many other of his restaurants in New York, we've never made it to Babbo, but it is on our to do list.

The recipe is intriguing, a grand mixture of tastes with the squid ink pasta, a Jalapeño pesto, rock shrimp and soppressata.  The butcher shop at Encinal Market has soppressata, which is an Italian cured dry sausage that comes from locally-raised hogs in Calabri.  Soppressata has natural flavors such as cumin, black pepper, red pepper and chilli peppers added to the meat, which is then cured for 3 to 12 weeks, giving it a hot, peppery taste and an uneven, rustic appearance.  It is really good stuff.

However, we are unable to find rock shrimp, which have a hard, spiny shell, more like lobster than shrimp.  But we don't search very hard (rock shrimp are no doubt available somewhere in San Francisco) and substitute the fresh shrimp that JP Seafood has on hand.

The first step is to make the Jalapeño pesto, tossing 3 cups of Jalapeño peppers, 1/2 cup each of unsalted almonds, and chopped red onion into a food processor with 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Puree and, voila, pesto.

Then set out the ingredients, diced soppressata, shrimp, thin-sliced garlic, sliced scallions, pasta, and Jalapeño pesto.

Ingredients, assembly required

While the pasta cooks, we sauté the garlic, shrimp, and soppressata in olive oil.  When the garlic is toasted and the shrimp are cooked through, we finish with four tablespoons of the Jalapeño pesto, the pasta and a gentle toss.

Sauté the garlic, shrimp, and soppressata

We serve in warmed pasta plates and garnish with the sliced scallions.


What a great dish! And, while the pasta plates are warming in the oven, we pop in the focaccia which has prosciutto and creamy cheese (I bet you forgot about the focaccia) and feast on the warmed treats while we wait (they disappear to rapidly, we're lucky to get an in-process picture).

 Focaccia disappearing fast

This is a great combination and a real treat.  We'll have to do it again!  It is so great when someone brings you a gift that is an intellectual and culinary challenge.  Boun Appetito!

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