Tuesday 11 July 2017

Pasta with cuttlefish sauce

15 minutes to prepare Serves 4

Pasta chi siccie


To me, as a young child, summer vacation was not about the sea of Sicily, sunny weather, and beach life but the period I would get to spend with my grandma, nonna Nina.
Sangu meo, vita mia!” is what she affectionately called me from the very beginning. I’d learn Sicilian dialect while growing up, just to communicate with her.

She was the traditional Italian granny. In the most difficult of all family tasks — how to make a house a home — she was naturally gifted. The influence of her love charms during those years was left indelibly upon my mind into adulthood. (Pure love is my father's definition of her. Significant words, especially if you consider she was his mother in law, ha-ha)

In the early years of my memory I recall grandma adorned in a cotton, buttoned dress, always clean and pressed, with one of those wonderful, floral aprons with large, deep pockets for holding every tool needed for domestic challenges.
She always had either biscuits, mustazzoli, almonds, merendine, or some other culinary treat for us to snack throughout the day. She had the amazing ability to engage me in household chores that never seemed to be as fun when doing it with or for her: even cleaning fish and washing tomatoes seemed wonderful with nonna...or maybe it was the inviting smells of pasta dishes emanating from the kitchen.

If you wanted to spend time with nonna Nina, you usually had to work along side her at whatever task she was attending at the moment — a quirk she passed on to my mother, and to me. She didn’t seem to have patience for whiny drama, lounging or laziness. It was always work first, relax second...eventually. And she was definitely the early-to-bed and early-to-rise type. (I used to wake up at 6 a.m. during the summer, just to have breakfast alone with her!)
She made holidays to be impatiently waited for, she made me feel truly beloved although I was a rather introverted, silent and reserved young girl, and was adept at pursuing kindness, faith, neatness and discipline — inspirational traits for my adult self.

Ten years is both a lifetime and just yesterday when it comes to being gone, and being deeply missed.
Today’s recipe is a celebration of nonna Nina: her pasta with cuttlefish sauce. It was always served with mollica atturrata (fried breadcrumbs) and fried eggplant as side dish.
Like most of popular dishes, the origin of cuttlefish sauce are argued about. As long as I know, there are 2 versions, one from Sicily and one from the area around Venice. The difference being is that the Venetians don’t use a tomato sauce base and the Sicilians do.
So if you are prepared to be different and try something new, or, perhaps want to recreate one of my favorite memory, this is the recipe for you.

Here are ingredients for a 4-serving recipe:


320 g pasta
400 g cuttlefish
450 g  tomatoes, preferably Sammarzano
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot
120 ml dry white wine
1 sprig parsley
EVO oil
salt and pepper

  1. Keep calm and clean cuttlefish, wearing gloves: remove the beak and take out the cuttlebone. Then, peel off the skin and remove the head with all internal organs from the body, carefully pulling the ink sac and edible roe. Discard the remaining innards and keep the head, arms and tentacles. Finally, cut and slice the cuttlefish into small pieces
  2. Boil water in a pot, add salt
  3. Pour 4 tablespoons of EVO oil in a pan and, when it is hot, add the garlic cloves and the shallot, finely chopped
  4. When the garlic is golden, remove it and add the cuttlefish. Braise over low heat, then add the white wine and let it evaporate
  5. Add the tomatoes and go on with the cooking for about 15 minutes, until the cuttlefish flesh becomes soft
  6. Add salt, freshly ground pepper, chopped parsley and switch-off the heat
  7. Once the water starts to bubble, pour the pasta
  8. Drain pasta 2 minutes before the cooking time indicated on the package and transfer them into the pan with the sauce of cuttlefish. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring carefully and adding cooking water as needed
  9. Serve immediately!

Nutrition Facts are detailed in the table below. Data is provided per serving.

"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink."
(George Orwell)

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