Sunday, April 20, 2014

Date Night : Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari, Mussels, + Scallops braised in a Herbed, Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce and Brown Butter Panko

Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari, Mussels, + Scallops braised in a Herbed, Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce
Happy Easter everyone! I hope that everyone is surrounded by family, devouring honey baked hams, and stuffing your faces with carrot cake. Or, well, that's what we tend to do around this joint. But unfortunately, I do not have an Easter themed recipe for y'all today, but instead a Date Night entree. This dish is truly stunning... in person... in photographs... in general. I love the pop of black given from the squid ink pasta and the contrast of color the seafood + tomatoes provide. It looks extremely gourmet, but it was actually quite easy to throw together. We purchased the squid ink pasta a while ago, but we were waiting for the right inspiration to hit us. Usually everyone serves it with seafood because it obviously compliments the flavoring of the pasta. Well, we chose not one, but three types: calamari, mussels, + scallops. You honestly could just leave everything out and just use the calamari... just make sure you double or triple the amount of it. The pasta dish doesn't have a heavy sauce, which I love because it allows the remaining minor components to sing-- quite loudly. The sauce is super simple, in that it takes some sauteed onions, garlic, serrano, seafood stock, white wine, and a whole bunch of heirloom cherry tomatoes. Between the brine-y flavor from the squid ink pasta + seafood, the sweet + spicy tomato sauce, and crunchy brown butter panko, every flavor note is easily achieved. Not only is this delicious for two people, but it can't most certainly feed a big group. And lemme tell you, it's a crowd pleaser. I mean, they always say that you eat with your eyes first... and well, this dish is as colorful as you can get!! Enjoy :)

For the Brown Butter Panko:
4T Salted Butter, Melted & Browned
1C Panko Breadcrumbs

For the Pasta:
2T Unsalted Butter + 2T EVOO
1 Small Red Onion, Thinly Sliced
5 Cloves of Garlic, Thinly Sliced
1-2 Serranos, Thinly Sliced
2C Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
2C Seafood Stock + 2C White Wine
2T Sugar (or to your desired sweetness)
1T AP Flour
1-2t Red Pepper Flakes (or to your desired spiciness)
Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste
½C Mixed Herbs (we recommend minced chives, Chiffonade basil, & tarragon)
½lb Calamari, Cut into Rings
1lb Mussels, Cleaned + Beard Removed
8-10 Seared Scallops
8oz Squid Ink Pasta

1. For the Brown Butter Panko: In a small sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter until it has begun to toast and lightly brown. After it is has browned, pour the butter over the panko and quickly toss to coat the breadcrumbs until they are saturated. Return the buttered breadcrumbs to the pan and continue to brown them until they reach a lightly golden brown color. This should only take a few minutes (make sure to move them constantly, so they don’t burn). Remove them from the pan and place into a bowl, so that they can be used as a garnish later.
2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in the squid ink pasta. Cook them according to the package; however, ours only took about 3-5 minutes (just make sure it’s al dente). Drain the pasta and set aside.
3. For the Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce: Bring a large sauté pan to medium-high heat and add in the butter and olive oil. Once they have melted, add in the red onion slices, garlic slivers, sliced Serranos, and calamari rings. Cook them until they begin to caramelize slightly and become fragrant, about 2-3 minutes (don’t let the garlic burn). Throw in the tomato halves and continue to sauté until they begin to break down and release their juices, about another 3-5 minutes. Stir in the seafood stock, white wine, and mussels. Cover and let this mixture cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes in order for the flavors to meld and allowing the mussels to open up. Afterwards, sift the 1T of AP Flour over the sauce and stir to combine (this will help the sauce thicken a bit and hold onto the pasta better). Now, it’s time to season the sauce with red pepper flakes, sea salt, & fresh cracked peppers. Once it has been seasoned to your liking, add in ¼C of the fresh mixed herbs (saving the other portion for garnishing).  Add the drained squid ink pasta into the spicy heirloom tomato sauce and toss to cover the noodles completely.
4. Serving the Pasta: Dump the squid ink pasta onto a serving platter and place the seared scallops all over the dish. Garnish with the remaining ¼C of fresh mixed herbs and sprinkle the brown butter panko all over the dish.
5. Enjoy with some toasted bread and a glass of red wine!

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