Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta

>>  Sunday, May 16, 2010

Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta
Have you ever had squid ink pasta? Bryan and I tried it for the first time in Venice while on our honeymoon. Squids use the dark ink as an escape mechanism, spraying dark clouds of it into the water to confuse their predators. Squid ink imparts a salty, briny ocean flavor and lends a beautiful black color to any dish that uses it.

We had the most amazing squid ink pasta several months back at Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante. When Bryan and I saw fresh homemade squid ink pasta for sale in the North End (Boston's Italian district), we knew we had to get some and try it with one of Mario Batali's recipes.

I found a simple Mario Batali recipe for a squid ink pasta dish that he serves at Babbo, his NYC establishment. I was surprised at how easy this recipe was, considering that the flavors are decently complex and the dish presents beautifully. Of course, the hardest part is finding the squid ink pasta, but you can make this dish with normal pasta too. Honestly, I'm not sure how much extra flavor the squid ink pasta contributed in my case, since this pasta's "squid" flavor was actually quite light.
This dish can come together in less than 20 minutes total - it's that easy and quick. Basically, you render the fat out of the pancetta, use the rendered fat to brown your vegetable of choice (in this case, parsnips), and toss in the pasta and combine! Throw in some pasta water to perfect the texture of the sauce, and finish off with some chopped parsley.

That's it! And it tastes really good too!
Squid Ink Pasta
adapted from Mario Batali courtesy of MSNBC

Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta
serves 4 | prep time: 20 min

• 1 lb fresh Squid Ink Pasta (can substitute with regular pasta)
• Kosher salt
• 1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/4 inch half-moons
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
• Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

In a 12 to 14-inch sauté pan, cook the pancetta over high heat until it is browned and the fat has been rendered, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Add the butter and parsnips and sauté over high heat without shaking the pan too much until they are golden brown and slightly crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley, and cook 1 minute longer.

Cook the fresh homemade pasta in the boiling water until tender yet al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the pan with the parsnips and pancetta. Toss over high heat to coat the pasta, adding pasta cooking-water as necessary to keep the sauce from getting too tight. Divide equally among four heated pasta bowls, grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over each bowl, and serve immediately.

Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta

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