Squid Ink Pasta and the Man Behind it All
Here and there I’ve mentioned something about the man who cooks many of the dishes on these pages, but maybe I don’t credit him enough: my husband, Marco. Anyone who knows him is always surprised to hear that when we met he had never cooked a thing before in his life. Now, we argue over who gets to have more bench space in the kitchen.
Born in San Miniato, a hilltop town between Pisa and Florence, surrounded by vineyards and forested hills that hold the secrets of white truffles, Marco’s passion for food and wine led him to become a sommelier (and also led us on many fantastic trips and experiences such as my first wine harvest). He also makes a mean cocktail and worked in places like the bar of Florence’s Four Seasons hotel, inventing some gorgeous drinks such as the Breakfast Martini (English breakfast tea, vodka and sake). He has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and is always up for cooking something new or experimenting with a dish, something I utterly love about him.
I have to give him complete credit for the tagliolini al limone recipe (our go-to dish when we have to whip up something fast and tasty) and the raspberry acetosa mojito, a finalist for Best Poolside Cocktail at Food52. He loves baking bread and making pasta from scratch but the one thing that he leaves almost entirely to me is dessert – he says it’s not his thing but he does make a beautiful biancomangiare.
We have always loved travelling together, photographing, eating and drinking our way through Marrakech, Puglia, Tokyo, Malta, Piemonte and wherever else we end up. In our free time, we’re thinking up excuses to invite people over to cook for. Does that make us food nerds? I’ve learned so much from him, I just couldn’t imagine a better person to share this passion and this life with so I think it’s about time I dedicated at least one post to him. What better than a fresh pasta dish made by the man himself?
Squid Ink Pasta
We turned this squid ink pasta into paper-thin ravioli, filled with Balmain bugs (slipper lobster) and prawns. We also made enough pasta to make tagliatelle, which Marco dressed with the same lemony recipe as his favourite tagliolini al limone.
For 4 people:
- 400 grams of flour
- 4 small eggs
- 8 grams of squid ink (available from Italian delicatessens)
Sift the flour out onto a large, clean surface to make a ‘pyramid’ and then, with your hand, make a well in the centre of it. Crack your eggs into the well and with a fork, begin first by beating the eggs, then slowly incorporate the flour, little by little, until the mixture becomes creamy. Eventually you will reach a point where the mixture thickens so that you can no longer use the fork. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty!
Incorporate the rest of the flour or as much as you need until it is no longer sticky. At this point, knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until it is elastic (poke it, it should bounce back), then wrap it in plastic wrap, or put an up-turned bowl over it and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Dust a clean, flat surface such as your kitchen bench with flour. Roll out the dough (you may need to do cut it in half and do sections separately) and when it is thin enough to put it through a pasta machine, roll out and repeat until it is thin enough to see your fingers through it when you hold it up to the light (no. 7 on most pasta machines). If you are rolling by hand, which is more difficult due to the elasticity, roll from the centre out, until the pasta is thin enough to see your fingers through the other side.
Cut into desired shapes (for tagliatelle, dust the sheets of pasta with flour, roll it up and chop 1cm long noodles) and cook in a large pot of plenty of boiling, salted water for about 2 minutes.
Cooking with fresh pasta is slightly different from cooking with dry pasta. Remove the pasta from the water with tongs (as opposed to draining it, as a little more water clinging to the pasta will benefit the taste and texture) and place in a skillet where your warm sauce is waiting, then toss and serve immediately. Make sure your guests are ready to eat and are sitting at the table when you throw the pasta in the pot – fresh pasta waits for no one!