Sunday, 20 March 2011

Squid with Angel-hair Pasta

Mmm, squid are lovely. The fishmonger in Cambridge market does a nice selection; today he had both tiny ones and enormous ones! Cooking as I am for one, I bought two small ones. They'd be very usefully-sized for stuffing and roasting, but I find that kind of food a little fussy. Here I combine them with some Italian flavours for a light and refreshing pasta dish. I think traditionally the greens would form a separate course rather than part of the dish, but I wouldn't have been able to juggle two dishes and watch the final two episodes of Being Human!

This is a meal where there's a fair bit of preparation, then the actual cooking is lightning-fast, so do have everything ready before you fry the squid.


  • 2 small, 1 medium, or half a large squid per person
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 5 sundried tomatoes in oil, or dry, rehydrated
  • 5-6 green olives
  • 2 stalks of swiss chard
  • generous handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 fat clove of garlic
  • a chunk of parmesan
  • 3 balls of dried egg vermicelli
  • juice of 1/3rd of a lemon
  • 1 handful fresh basil

Prepare the red pepper as for ruby salad: slice into halves or thirds, roast at 200 C for 35 minutes, skin side up, then remove from the oven and put in a pyrex bowl with a plate over the top, allowing to steam in its own heat for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean the squid thoroughly, removing the skeleton and internal organs, and giving it a good wash inside and out. Detach the tentacles and body, throwing away the mid section around the eyes. As finely as you can, slice the squid body into rings, and then the tentacles into slightly larger pieces. If you have an extremely large squid, you might want to slice it into thin strips rather than rings.

Roughly chop the sundried tomatoes and reserve in a pyrex bowl. Slice the olives lengthways into fat segments and add them to the tomatoes. Slice the stalk of the chard into thin segments and add to the same bowl, reserving the billowing green leaves. Finely chop the parsley and add to the bowl.

Skin the cooked red pepper and tear into long pieces, in the bowl in which it was steaming so as to keep the smoky juices. Put the garlic in a garlic crusher, ready to crush. Likewise, put the parmesan chunk in a mouli grater, or pre-grate if you don't have one. Put the vermicelli on to boil, as per the cooking instructions. Add 1 tsp olive oil to a heavy-based non-stick frying pan and raise to a high heat. You are now prepared!

When the oil begins to shimmer, but before it begins to smoke, throw in the squid rings and toss around to colour - cook in batches if you need to, so as not to overcrowd the pan. When the squid rings are all done, remove them, turn the heat down and add a touch more olive oil if you need to. Gently fry the chard mixture for 2 minutes, until the stems have just brightened. Roughly tear the chard leaves in and add a splash of water, stirring them around until they wilt, then return the squid and peppers to the pan and heat through.

Tear the basil into the pan and squeeze over the lemon juice, and a good grind of black pepper. Immediately serve over the drained angel-hair pasta and top with grated parmesan. YUM!

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