Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Remember my recent trip to the West Side Market? It was on that trip that I discovered Ohio City Pasta (for those of you in the greater Cleveland area that's booth E-3 at the Market). Now, I love fresh pasta. It's so much better than the dry stuff. I even make my own from time to time. It's a lot of work. The pasta I purchased from the market was out of this world good and I didn't have to break a sweat rolling and cutting and shaping. Can't beat that! I'll be returning to Ohio City Pasta as soon as I use up the remaining 6 bundles of fettuccine in my freezer. I need to try some of their ravioli next time!
Why am I going on about this pasta? Well, it was the pasta itself that inspired this dinner. Usually, I find a recipe for sauce and the pasta is an afterthought. For instance, I'll prepare a delicious Bolognese sauce recipe and just toss some store brand spaghetti into a pot, because really, it's all about the sauce. The spaghetti is just there to move the sauce into my mouth. well, not this time. This time I had black squid ink and Spanish saffron fettuccine in my possession. I confess, I didn't just walk up to the counter and announce with conviction, "Squid ink fettuccine please!" I received a little guidance from the helpful gentleman selling the pasta. I asked, "Squid ink pasta? Now what does that taste like?" He assured me that the flavor wasn't fishy at all, but had briny finish...like the sea. Then he went on to let me know that the squid ink pasta paired well with the saffron pasta and would be excellent with a seafood sauce. I love that. A meal plan. With that little culinary lesson in my pocket, I had much more confidence to prepare squid ink pasta in my kitchen and I headed home swinging my bag of many colored (and flavored)fresh pasta.
I decided to make a simple clam sauce to serve over my gourmet pasta. I wanted the subtle flavors of the pasta to shine through. Here is the cast of characters for tonight's dinner: olive oil, butter, flour, onion, garlic, parsley, minced clam, clam juice, salt, pepper, and of course, pasta. I used 8-10 oz., 1 bundle of black squid ink and 1 bundle of saffron. You may also want a little Parmesan cheese to grate over the top before serving.
I started by heating a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of butter in my skillet. Then I tossed in approximately 1/4 cup finely chopped onion and three large cloves of garlic. Add a little salt and fresh ground pepper too. While the onion and garlic saute I put the water on to boil for the pasta.
Once the onions are tender, stir in a tablespoon of flour. Add the clams, clam juice, and parsley. Cook and stir until slightly thickened. Toss the pasta in the hot water to cook.
Drain the cooked pasta and toss with your sauce. Now that I'm looking at this picture, there may be a subliminal issue to why I love this pasta so much. Gold and Black. It's Boilermaker Pasta! (I'm a Purdue University alum)
Dinner went down a little differently than I had planned. I wasn't sure how my "picky" child would react to black pasta. I decided to throw a pizza in the oven for the girls and feed them a little early. That way, my husband and I could enjoy a nice pasta dinner al fresco and catch up on the happenings of our day while we watched the girls play in the backyard. Then my hard-working husband phoned to say that he'd be a little late. No problem, I held off making dinner a little longer. Then he called to say that he was leaving his office in 5 minutes. So I made dinner. By now the girls had eaten their pizza and I was getting pretty hungry. Then dinner was ready. Still no sign of my husband. Not unusual. Sometimes he gets caught up in a last minute issue on the way out the door. So I called him. I heard "work sounds" in the background. He certainly wasn't in his car. Bummer. Dinner was ready and he was still at work. "Go ahead and eat" he encouraged, "I'll be on my way." And that is how I ended up having this "pasta for two" all by my lonesome. But I'm not sorry. Not at all. I didn't have to share. I carried my big bowl of fettuccine with clam sauce onto the deck and settled into my chair as the girls ran through the sprinkler and giggled in the yard. And then I took the first bite. Oh my. Eating this pasta was like taking a 15 minute vacation. Everything else sort of fell away. It was ridiculously good. I couldn't believe how good.
You know what wasn't so good? The carbohydrate crash that occurred a little while later as I was trying to get two squirmy kids to bed. Must...keep...moving...get...the...pajamas. Oh well, it was totally worth it. Maybe next time I'll practice a little moderation.
Fettuccine with Clam Sauce
4-5 oz. fresh black squid ink fettuccine
4-5 oz. fresh saffron fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 can minced clams
1/3-1/2 cup clam juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Prepare pasta as directed. Drain and keep warm. Heat a skillet with olive oil and butter. Add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Saute until onion is tender. Stir in flour. Add clams, juice, and parsley. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened. Toss sauce with pasta and top with freshly grated Parmesan.