The culinary planets were aligned. With fresh Argentinian sweet prawns and calamari from Diana's Seafood, a crop of fresh arugula and chives from our garden, hot house tomatoes from the St Lawrence Market and Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia from our last trip to Italy, our dinner was shaping up to be 'delizioso!' Having shelled the prawns and not wanting to waste their hidden goodness, I decided to sauté them in olive oil to gently to coax out all the lovely shellfish flavours and create an intense prawn oil that accentuated the sweetness of the prawns and infused the dish with exceptional flavour. In this recipe, the oil is sautéed with crushed red pepper flakes, minced garlic, green onions and chopped capers, and seasoned with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Cooked in salted water until al dente, the squid ink pasta is added to the fragrant garlic-onion mixture and tossed with a little white wine, fresh arugula, basil, and a cup of pasta water. Finished with grilled prawns and calamari, the seafood is added to the pasta and gently rewarmed in the sauce. Garnished with roasted tomatoes, chopped chives, a drizzle of olive oil, and finished with lovely garden fresh chive blossoms, this Squid Ink Pasta with Prawns, Calamari & Arugula was sweet, delicate and full of fabulous flavours of the sea — and garden!
Squid Ink Pasta with Prawns, Calamari & Arugula
1 lb calamari with heads, cleaned
20 large Argentinian prawns, shelled and deveined (reserve the shells)
4 small hot house or Roma tomatoes, halved
8 oz Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia or other squid ink pasta
1/2 cup olive oil, divided, plus extra for drizzling
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp capers, minced
1 cup fresh wild arugula
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup pasta water
2 tbsp fresh chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the tomatoes in a bowl with 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and lightly caramelized.
Place the peeled and de-veined prawns in a small bowl and toss with a glug of olive oil to coat. In another bowl, place the whole calamari with heads cut off below the beak, and toss with a little olive oil. Cover both bowls with cling film and set aide until ready for grilling on an outdoor BBQ.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Sauté the prawn shells until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5-6 minutes, then remove and discard. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for a minute, then add the garlic, spring onions and minced capers to the infused oil and season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and the onions translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the prawns and calamari on a preheated outdoor grill and cook until they are just cooked through. On a cutting board, slice the calamari into 1/4-inch rings, then cover the seafood to keep warm.
Cook the linguine in lightly salted boiling water for about 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir the the arugula, basil, wine and a splash of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to the pasta. Add the grilled prawns and calamari and toss gently to rewarm the seafood. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then divide the pasta between 4 warm serving bowls. Garnish with the roasted tomatoes, chopped chives and a drizzle of olive oil. I finished the dish with a garnish of fresh chive blossoms, as they were readily available from our garden.