Friday, August 17, 2012

Linguine with Chickpeas and Calamari

A lot of the new dishes that are tried out in kitchens are the result of a lack of imagination by the cook. Not a lack of culinary imagination, no, not that. Rather, the inability to imagine a flavour combination that is described in a new recipe. This is the case for me, and some friends as well.

When I hear a new recipe, and simply cannot imagine how the various flavors work together, but I know I adore all the dish's components (although, there are few tastes that I don't adore), it must be made.

Late one night, watching an Italian cooking show (my preferred method of learning the language) there was a segment on Linguine con ceci e calamaretti. The title seemed reasonable, but then I saw rosemary on the chef's counter. Really? Rosemary and calamari? Hmmmm...intrigue was set. A friend made it for me later that week, and I was amazed. The chickpeas are blended together with lemon juice to create a creamy base in which to coat the linguine, and no cream! And the rosemary danced between brightening up the chickpeas, and bringing out the calamari's bold side.

This week, I made the dish as part of an Italian dinner evening for some Czech friends. We started by sipping a Czech interpretation of the Italian spritz  (read: bigger and stronger), the classic caprese starter, the trendy ribboned zucchini salad, and the stage was then set for this simple, easy, yet slightly exotic pasta to wow. And it did. And it was eaten with much gusto.

Continue to Recipe...

Recipe: Linguine with Chickpeas and Calamari
 Adapted from Cucina con Ale
Serves 4
Time 30 minutes

1 lb (500g) linguine
2 Tb olive oil
2 cloves garlic - whole
450g calamaretti (small calamari...or bigger ones cut in bite-sized pieces)
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1 can chickpeas

 1) Start the pasta water boiling. Heat 2 Tb olive oil in a pan over low heat, add the 2 cloves of garlic and let infuse/heat up for 5 minutes. Start cooking the linguine.

2) Add the calamari, lemon zest, and rosemary sprigs to the olive oil in the pan. Cook 5 minutes, until calamari firm up. 

3) Make the chickpea 'sauce' - in a blender, pure the lemon juice, olive oil, a bit of salt and chickpeas. Add some of the pasta water to thin out a bit...maybe just a few tablespoons. 

4) Drain the pasta, and coat the linguine with the chickpea 'sauce'. Remove the calamari from the pan, and gently mix into the pasta. Remove the rosemary from the pan, and finely mince the leaves. Garnish pasta with rosemary and crushed black pepper.



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