Squid Ink Bread
2 hours 30 minutes
makes 2 loaves
Last month, I finally made my trip to Sicily, the glorious land of fish, beautiful food, sunshine and Greek and Roman monuments. I landed in Catania and fell in love instantly. I ate some of the best food I have ever had, and was inspired to create some really incredible flavor combinations. I love pasta, and truly appreciate the art of making fresh homemade pasta. With that said, I always consider pasta dishes as a delicious but simple thing to cook when I don’t feel like doing something complex and crazy. Fresh and simple….but…I learned that is not always the case. I ate incredible pasta dishes with complex (and frequently multiple) sauces that intermingled on my plate in an explosion of flavors and visual elements. Creamy ricotta balanced with pitch black squid ink like black snakes making their way through a white sand beach.
I was so thrilled to come home and share the incredible cuisine I experienced with our friends, and this past Saturday, I finally had the opportunity. We hosted 17 of our lovely friends for a traditional Sicilian meal, which, unlike our traditional 3 course dinners, sported four courses. As per Sicilian tradition, we started with an antipasti course of Arancini, Croquettes, and Bruschetta.
To start our meal, I created a gorgeous, if somewhat difficult to photograph Bruschetta with Sea Urchin and Lardo. I decided to serve this non-conventional combination on a non-conventional slice of bread. So I went with Squid Ink Bread!
No, I didn’t try squid ink bread when I was in Sicily, but I did try just about every other dish you can think of with squid ink in it. There were squid ink Arancine, and Squid Ink Pasta Sauces, I even saw a dessert that somehow involved squid ink, but the cannoli were calling my name, so it never happened. I read about Sicilian Squid Ink bread when I got home and began researching for this meal. Although the bread has not been around for centuries, it has made itself a part of Sicilian cuisine, so I decided to try it.
I figured the midnight black of the bread would aesthetically pair well with the bright orange of the Sea Urchin Uni, and the light fishiness of the flavor would work well with my dish. I even did a test-run of the flavors for Nico and my anniversary dinner the week before. It was an incredible success.
The combination of Uni and Lardo is beautiful, and it works even better on this gorgeous silky bread. The dish itself is incredibly simple to make. Just slice up your bread, add one or two Uni per slice, break it up a bit to cover the surface and place a slice of lardo on top. Then simply broil for three minutes to allow the fat to render a bit. Can’t find lardo? Go to your butcher and buy the nicest bacon you can find and ask them to slice it super thin.
To pair with our Uni and Lardo Bruschetta, we served some Spinach Arancini, the recipe for which we posted yesterday. We also served some incredibly delicious Milk and Cheese Croquettes (the recipe for which I will not share yet, as I am still figuring out how to prevent them from exploding while frying….the taste is divine though!).
The Primi course, which follows the antipasti, is generally formed of a pasta dish of some sort, and we did not disappoint. We served a trio of delicious seafood pastas. I created a Handmade Pasta with a Creamy and Lemony Ricotta which paired with a Squid Ink Sauce. It was divine! In addition we created a Spaghetti Nero D’Avola with a spicy tomato sauce of Mussels, Razor Clams, and Prawns. Not sure what Speghetti Nero D’Avola means? It means I boiled my pasta in the Nero d’Avola red wine from Sicily instead of water. I saw this for the first time in Sicily, and fell in love! Our final pasta dish was one that seems a bit unconventional for Italy, but is actually a quintessentially Sicilian dish, a Seafood Couscous!
The Secondi course generally consists of meats and fishes. We served an Eggplant Capotana with Swordfish, and a delicious and slow cooked Braised Lamb Shank Stew. Perhaps it was too much food, but I couldn’t think of a single dish to remove from the list.
We finished our meal with Cannoli made completely from scratch! Stay tuned for all of our recipes in the coming days, and keep reading for the Squid Ink Bread recipe below!
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1 /2 teaspoons yeast
- 2 tablespoons squid ink
- 4 cups bread flour, plus extra for kneading as needed
- 1/4 cup olive oil plus extra for the bowl
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine yeast, water, and squid ink. Rest 10 minutes.
- Carefully add in flour, one cup at a time. Knead in salt and oil in a stand mixer.
Knead on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
Remove to an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise for about an hour and a half or so until doubled.
- Remove the dough to a counter and knead for another 5 minutes.
Divide the dough into 2 and form long loaves (or honestly whatever kind of loaves you want).
Place the loaves on parchment paper.
Cover with the cloth and let partially rise for about 30 minutes longer.
- Preheat oven to 400°F with the convection fan on (or 425°F without).
Bake your loaves for 20-25 minutes until they sound hollow when flicked.
I like to spray some water into the oven before I close it to let the loaves rise as nicely as possible.
Cool and serve as part of the Uni and Lardo Bruschetta, or anything else. THe bread keeps well for at least 4 days.