The New Black

If you are lucky enough to have a garden, may I suggest this pasta dish as an almost perfect thing to eat in it? Especially if it happens to be a balmy summer evening and you have some chilled rosé on hand.

squid ink pasta

It’s delicious eaten indoors too though. And good enough for company as the dramatic colours are guaranteed to impress and distract attention from the fact it is very easy to make.

The recipe was born several years ago after I picked up some black pasta on a work trip to Italy. I’m fond of it as it’s the first dish I was aware of actively trying to develop. The first time round I used dried chorizo and sundried tomatoes with the squid but it was all wrong, far too intense and not fresh enough. But I knew I was onto something with the idea and eventually I got it right. For a while I was pretentious enough to consider it my “signature dish”.

squid ink pasta
squid ink pasta
squid ink pasta

Anyway. You should try it. The robust savouriness of chorizo and sweetness of the tomatoes are a great foil for the iodine hit of the pasta and allow the squid itself to shine. Looks pretty too. Serve with a green salad and maybe some crusty bread to soak up the juices.
 

Black Pasta With Squid, Chorizo And Fresh Tomato

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 150g black (squid or cuttlefish ink) pasta*
  • 2 cooking chorizo sausage (I like Brindisa's picante ones)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 150g raw squid rings or two small squid
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • Small bunch parsley

Method

  1. This is simple to put together but the squid but needs timing just right if it isn't to become rubbery so it might be best to prepare everything in advance. That way you can also pretend you are a TV chef as you go. Chop the sausages lengthways and then into 1cm half moons. If using whole squid, cut them into thin rings. Crush the garlic to a paste, cut the cherry tomatoes into eighths, pick and roughly chop the parsley leaves.
  2. Put the chorizo chunks in a large frying pan over a low heat. Cook until they begin to give out their lovely brick red oil then add the garlic. Stir until it is fragrant but not yet browned and pour in the wine.
  3. Meanwhile get the pasta going in a large pan of boiling water. Cook as per instructions  o the packet - it’ll probably about 10 minutes which is plenty of time to finish the sauce.
  4. Squeeze half the lemon into the sausage pan. I do it through a coffee strainer so as to avoid pips sneaking in there. Turn the heat up and let the sauce bubble away until the pasta is ready.
  5. Drain the pasta and put it in your serving bowl.
  6. Check the lemon levels and seasoning. Add a good grinding of black pepper, salt and more lemon only if you think it needs them.
  7. Chuck the squid rings into the sausage pan. They don’t need more than 30 seconds in the hot liquid really or they’ll become rubbery. Pour the contents of the pan over the pasta.
  8. Add the chopped tomatoes and parsley to the bowl and toss- the heat of the pasta will warm the tomatoes through - and serve ASAP.
squid ink pasta
chorizo and farlic
chorizo and squid

Ifs And Ands

  • Try prawns or scallops instead of the squid and bacon in place of the sausage.
  • If you like it spicy consider adding a finely-chopped fresh red chilli along with the garlic. Or even some ‘nduja, that spreadable sausage that seems to be all the rage these days.
  • For a creamy take on the dish use only half a glass of wine and add the same again of double cream along with lemon zest just before serving.

*A note on pasta: I think a linguine type thing works best. You used to be able to get a nice one from Carluccios but they switched to a thick spaghetti (pictured here) which doesn’t hold the sauce as well. If you can find something a bit flatter but not too wide then go for that.