When paired with succulent shellfish and a heavenly broth –– the taste of the sea abounds!
When I first tasted squid ink pasta I was hooked. It has a subtle but unique taste of the sea, and it begs to be paired with other ocean treasures.
We can almost always find fresh mussels and flash frozen wild shrimp, although squid is hit or miss at the fish market. The day I made this recently, it was not to be found, so I went with just the shrimp and mussels, and the resulting dish was a crowd pleaser. The sauce is more of a broth that you would expect when eating mussels, but works beautifully with the pasta.
Of course, if there is fresh calamari at your fish market, use that rather than, or in addition to, the shrimp! Just clean it and slice it into rings.
Squid Ink Pasta with Mussels & Shrimp
This actually goes pretty fast. You can prep your shellfish and vegetables ahead of time, even make the stock ahead of time, and when your meal nears, put on your pasta water to boil and in the time it takes to do so, the rest of the meal will be ready.
2 lbs. mussels
1 lb. shrimp
1 bulb fennel
1 large leek or onion
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
Large pinch of saffron
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 cups shrimp stock
1 lb squid ink pasta
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, air dried
1 cup fresh parsley minced
Place two or three slices of sturdy bread in the food processor and pulse, or grate by hand, until you have a loose crumb with some texture, a little bigger than panko. Set aside to air dry. You will want a cup of crumbs, how many slices depends on the size and texture of your bread.
First, scrub and clean off any beards form the mussels and place them in a large bowl of salted water to which you’ve added a few tablespoons of cornmeal. The mussels will suck in the cornmeal and disgorge it along with any grit or sand. My mom’s old trick and it is a good one!
While this is happening, clean the shrimp. Using kitchen shears, cut the back of the shrimp and remove the shells, leaving the last joint and tail for a nice presentation. Place the shells in a small saucepan and set aside for a few minutes. Clean the intestinal track from the shrimp, and once they are cleaned, refrigerate them.
Remove the top and the core from the fennel bulb, cut it into quarters, and slice it thinly.
Peel the onion, halve it, and slice it thinly as well. Mince the garlic.
Place the fennel, onion, and garlic trimmings in the pan along with the shrimp shells and add 3 cups of water. Add the fennel seeds and a bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and cook for a half hour. Strain and set aside two cups. This is not essential to the recipe, you can substitute a prepared stock for this, but why when you have all this material that would be thrown away? And, this tastes better!
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, adding any extra shrimp stock beyond the two cups reserved. When at a rolling boil, add three tablespoons of salt and drop the pasta. Set your timer for the earliest amount of time on the directions, probably around eight minutes. When done, drain.
While the pasta cooks, place a large saucepan over medium high heat and sauté the fennel and onion in the butter and olive oil until translucent but not browned. Add the garlic and saffron and cook for a few minutes, then pour in the white wine. Cook until the wine is reduced a bit and the alcohol evaporated, and add 2 cups of the shrimp stock. Bring to a simmer and add the mussels. Cover.
At five minutes, check and remove to a large bowl any mussels that have opened, the timing of this all depends on their size. Cover and continue until all the mussels have opened, adding them to the bowl and keeping them covered with some foil to keep warm. Discard any mussels that do not open.
Place the shrimp in the pan, cook for one minute, cover, and remove from the heat.
In five minutes, add the cooked pasta to the pan (reserving a cup of pasta water) and mix it up well. Add the mussels and most of the bread crumbs, mix again, and let simmer for a few minutes. Drizzle in a little pasta water if you think it needs it. Sprinkle with the fresh parsley and remaining bread crumbs.
Serve with slices of baguette or hearty bread spread with a little garlic-herb butter, just in case you need to sop up the juice at the end.
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read, The New Vintage Kitchen.
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