Jordan and I have a new plan. We’ll call it Chez Jojonoodle just to keep things simple around here … craving details yet?
The goal: to challenge ourselves culinarily and bring new recipes to you. The method: download the weekly menus from the famed Chez Panisse and make at least one dish from that week’s menu going off nothing more than the title of the dish. What fun!
Our first foray into the Chez Panisse/Chez Jojonoodle challenge was from the menu on Thursday, July 7th: Hand Cut Saffron Pasta with Monterey Bay Calamari. We had invited our adventurous eater friends Matt and Alexa over for dinner and dove right in. I made the saffron pasta, making a few adjustments from the egg pasta recipe I explained here and Jordan took on the squid.
Saffron Egg Pasta with Grilled Squid
1 batch egg pasta
1 lb whole squid
lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and chili flake
fresh herbs, chopped (we used basil, parsley and chives)
For the pasta
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t salt
3 egg yolks
1 T olive oil
1 T water
1 pinch saffron
I followed the same egg pasta recipe I’ve used in the past but with one small tweak. For a saffron pasta, infuse one pinch of saffron threads in the 1T olive oil and 1T warm water mixture. It will dissolve some, but use a pestle to crush the threads a bit to encourage the infusion before adding it to the eggs. Follow the rest of the pasta recipe as directed here.
One additional note: I would highly recommend dusting each sheet of pasta with flour before cutting into strands. This will save you a lot of time pulling sticky pasta strands apart or prying them off a baking sheet before cooking.
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for 4 – 6 minutes and toss with olive oil.
For the squid
Remove the beaks and spines of the squid. Rinse them off and refrigerate until ready to grill.
Make a marinade with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chili flake. Heat your grill (or grill pan in our case) to medium high. Just before grilling, toss the squid in the marinade. Grill them for just 1 – 2 minutes per side. If you overcook the squid, they will be tough and nobody wants that!
To serve, top the olive-oil-dressed pasta with the squid. Squeeze a good amount of lemon over the squid and sprinkle with chopped herbs.
Before I made the pasta, I thought the saffron might have just been a throwaway – something that makes a dish sound appealing, but doesn’t actually contribute any flavor. I was wrong. The floral flavor of the saffron really came through in the pasta. Also surprisingly, the squid had a lot more flavor than expected. Calamari usually just taste like the breading they are fried in, but these grilled squid had a noticeable ocean flavor. Maybe it was because of the simple preparation, or maybe because they were young and very fresh. Another plus: squid are an inexpensive and sustainable seafood. Overall, this was a very fun dish to prepare and tastier than expected! I’m looking forward to our next interpretation.