7.07.2018

Pasta in Black and White

As we mentally get ready for our upcoming trip to Sicily, I am making Sicilian dishes to prepare our palates for the great things to come.

Today's recipe - Spaghetti Neri con Polpa di Granchio (squid ink spaghetti with crab) - really has us in the mood.

This combination of briny pasta with sweet crab, white wine, and a hint of heat is a great summer dish. If you close your eyes while eating it, you can easily imagine you are at the water's edge.

The squid ink pasta may be hard to find, so you can just use regular spaghetti. If you want to make it yourself, I posted a recipe HERE several years ago. Don't skimp on the crab, though; get the best available to you.

Fresh crab is the ultimate, but not everybody has access to that, especially those of us in the desert. If you look, though, and shop carefully, you can find high quality fresh canned crab meat. Fresh canned? Isn't that an oxymoron? Pretty much, but you know what I mean...

I popped over the border into France to find a great wine pairing for this pasta - a Costière di Nîmes white from Mas Carlot. It is a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier, and is a perfect blend for seafood dishes. Head over to the Provence WineZine to read more.

Remember: Bonu vinu fa bonu sangu! (Good wine makes good blood!)

~ David
Spaghetti alla Seppia con Polpa di Granchio

12 ounces fresh squid ink pasta, or dried (see note)
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large shallot, minced

red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 pound lump crab meat
1/2 cup white wine, plus more as needed
4 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally when boiling. If you are using fresh pasta, it will cook in about 2 minutes. If using dried, follow the instructions on the package.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the shallot with the red pepper flakes until the shallot is soft and clear. Do not brown.

Add the crab and wine and cook gently, trying not to break up the crab pieces too much, until sauce has reduce and has a silky texture. Stir in the parsley, then remove from the heat until pasta is ready.

When pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid and then add drained pasta to the skillet. Toss gently with the crab mixture, adding a few splashes of pasta water until the consistency is right for you. Season with freshly ground black pepper. (I didn't add any salt, as the pasta water and the crab both season the sauce perfectly.)

Divide the spaghetti between three or four bowls, topping with the crab and drizzling with the sauce. Finish with a drizzle of your best olive oil.

Serves 3-4.


Note: recipe for squid ink pasta can be found HERE




40 comments:

  1. I think you will do just fine in Sicily!

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  2. Sounds like the two of you had a delicious meal while getting in the mood for your trip to Sicily. While in Como one year, my husband had a similar dish which he raved about so I can imagine how good it was.

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    1. Karen, I am always stunned by how simple an exquisite dish like this can be! I have really enjoyed following your travels this summer!

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  3. ooh la la. Getting in the mood for Sicily through delicious food. What fun! This dish looks wonderful!

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    1. Thanks, Valentina - it’s really a fun way to prepare!

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  4. Oh I'm so envious! I went to Sicily when I was 19 and fell in love with it (especially Taormina)! I've been dying to return, but somehow it never fits into the plans :( I am afraid of what I'll discover going back so many years later, but still want to go and do a proper driving tour of the entire island. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

    Don't believe I've had squid ink pasta, but I just had squid ink risotto in Venice last month and loved it (at Harry's Bar)!

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    1. Christina - I have heard that the island has changed a lot in the past decade or two, some for the good and some not. The good news is that it is cleaner, safer, and - if it’s even possible - more welcoming. All this makes for the bad - many more tourists, especially in Taormina.

      I am amazed at how a little squid ink can flavor a dish so well, whether pasta or risotto. There is a recipe for risotto made in Catania that uses squid ink and is then topped with fresh ricotta and a bit of tomato sauce - it looks like amount Etna!

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    2. That figures, looking forward to your opinion after going. That Etna risotto sounds amazing! How cool is that?!

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    3. I’m planning on trying the risotto next week! Waiting for my next shipment of squid ink!

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  5. I love squid ink pasta but have usually eaten it with other forms of seafood . . . can't wait to get some crab from the 'Big Smoke' but if too impatient 'fresh canned' may just have to do: can taste it now !

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    1. Let me know what you think, Eha. My first squid ink pasta was with tuna, but this version is truly amazing (to me).

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  6. For a second I thought it was artichokes, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the crab. I don't eat that seafood currently but I do love it so much. I bet your dish is luscious! :)

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    1. Thanks, Romain. Once I read your note, I looked back at the photo and can absolute see how it looks like artichoke hearts!

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  7. My this does looks fantastic, David. I love crab and we have access to excellent fresh crab here in Maryland, as you might imagine.

    In all the years I spent in Italy, I never did get down to Sicily, believe it or not, even if everyone I knew raved about the place, and especially the food. But coincidentally I'm going there, too, this summer, to attend a wedding in early August. Can't wait!

    PS: Funny, I would have pegged this as a Venetian dish but a quick Google search confirmed that indeed you're right of course. Live and learn. Another item for my "to eat" list while I'm there!

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    1. Where will the wedding be, Frank? I would love to hear any recommendations you might have!

      I imagine this dish might be made in several areas of Italy... anywhere where there is good crab! Like Maryland!

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  8. ...Yes, I too did not would not have said this was a Sicilian dish (like Frank) ... amazing how diverse Italian cooking is...it looks u 2 are diligent and doing yr homework - stefano

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    1. It is really diverse, Stefano, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this dish might be found in several coastal areas of Italy!

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  9. Beautiful!I hope you will enjoy your trip !

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    1. I know we will enjoy it immensely - we just have to wait two months (more actually) till our departure!

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  10. Such an elegant dish, D. Love reading all about your "popping" about here and there. Makes the meal even more special. I will make this tonight! xo

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    1. It does make the meals special, Colette! Sharing them with friends, like you, makes them even better!

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  11. Love the contrast of colours in this dish, so full of summer flavours.

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  12. I actually have some (dried) squid ink pasta on hand, so I'm set to go with this. Lovely dish -- neat way to use crab. So pretty, too! Thanks. --John

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    1. It’s so simple and fresh, John - and it just doesn’t get much better!

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  13. I have to look and see if can find the ink pasta. I never tried it. It probably would go well with our local dungeons crab when it is available.

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    1. It would be perfect with Dungeness crab, Gerlinde!

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  14. David, how exciting! I just watched an Anthony Bourdain episode about Sicily. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a good meal! I'm not quite sophisticated enough for squid ink, but I'll love this with spaghetti!

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    1. I know, Jean - I am so excited about all the foods in Sicily without garlic! It will be three weeks of culinary heaven for me!

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  15. What a fabulous way to ready yourselves for your pending travels. Sigh. Sicily. I look forward to returning some day.

    I never came across this dish while we were there, but as you may remember, I did have one with squid in Palermo. Divine!

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    1. It is fun, John, and I do remember your squid from Palermo! We look forward to our week there - we splurged and arranged to take a street food tour.

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  16. I have some squid ink pasta and have been wondering what to do with it. Lovely summery flavours here David :D

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  17. Dear David, I have only eaten Spaghetti alla Seppia once and I have never dared make some, ever. Your dish looks elegant and delicious, transporting all your followers and friends and readers directly to the South of Italy.
    A wonderful recipe!
    Herzliche Grüße!
    Andrea

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    1. Thanks, dear friend! Fresh pasta with seppia is so worth trying! I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer! xo

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  18. Enjoy the trip! Maybe you are already there. And yes, squid ink and this part of the world go hand in hand. GREG

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    1. Whether happily or not, I have two months to go before departure. Lots more anticipation but I need the vacation NOW!

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  19. Wow, sounds like the nicest kind of "training" I've ever heard of David. Have a great trip!

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    1. Thanks, Inger - the trip (just back yesterday)was amazing! Can’t wait to share recipes and stories!

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