Handmade Pasta with Ricotta Lemon and Squid Ink Sauces
2 hours 30 minutes
Earlier this week, I shared with you the dishes that we served for the Antipasti course of our big Sicilian dinner. Today, we start with the next course!
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!
Today, I wanted to share with you my favorite of the trio, my Homemade Pasta with Lemon Ricotta and Squid Ink Sauces. Yes, you heard that right! Two sauces! I had a dish in Catania where ricotta was paired with squid ink, and this inspired the sauce pairing. I wanted to elevate a humble pasta dish with homemade pasta and the aesthetic experience of mixing ivory and ebony. There is a subtle warmth to the color of a ricotta cream, and a bit of lemon juice and zest brings out the luxurious creaminess of ricotta. I served the pasta mixed with this sauce. On the side, I served a gorgeously complex sauce of aromatics fried and blended in with squid ink, cooked with pieces of squid. This black, velvety sauce, once poured onto the pasta with Ricotta cream, creates an instant contrast both visually and on your palette. I am so proud of this dish I can’t even explain how wonderfully it worked out.
Although you can use any kind of Linguine, I highly recommend making the pasta from scratch. There is a velvety nature to homemade pasta that cannot be achieved with dry pasta.
I wish I had better photographs of the plating, which I will do in the future for more intimate meals, but as it is, the nature of our communal dinners and the number of dishes served necessitated the dishes be served in large serving bowls as opposed to individually. Nothing is perfect after-all!
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, we made a trio of delicious Antipasti. If you are already a lover of squid ink, try my Squid Ink Bread, which we used to create a Sea Urchin and Lardo Bruschetta. Alongside the bruschetta, we served some Spinach Arancini. 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 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!
- for the pasta:
- 4 cups (480 g) flour*
- 6 eggs
- 8 tablespoons water
- for the lemon ricotta sauce:
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed with a garlic press or minced and smashed with the side of a knife
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 4 cups bread flour, plus extra for kneading as needed
- 4 egg yolks, beaten
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- salt and pepper
- for the squid ink sauce:
- 1 1/2 pounds baby squid, cleaned and chopped to bite sized pieces
- olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons salt and pepper
- salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons fish stock concentrate and 2 cups water or 2 cups fish stock
- 1 cup dry white wine
*note on flour: I use half semolina and half all-purpose if I want more sauce to stick to the pasta (great for tomato sauce) and Italian 00 flour when I want extra smooth noodles. In these photos, I am using the Italian 00 flour.
- For the pasta, place flour in volcano shape.
Add salt and eggs to crater.
Mix until ball forms, add water if needed.
- Knead 5 minutes.
Form into tennis sized balls. Rest dough for 1 hour.
- Dust machine with flour and pull ball of dough through, folding like a letter after each pass. I roll through three times or so until an even sheet is formed.
Make setting smaller, to desired thickness, roll through final time. I am fond of the “7” setting.
Trim to the length of pasta you want to create (9-12 inches) and cover with towel.
- Repeat with remainder.
- Run through cutting roller. Dust with flour to separate or hang on a pasta drying rack. With a rack, this can be done several hours in advance.
- When ready to serve, boil water. Cook 2-3 minutes.
- For the ricotta sauce: Combine all of the ingredients and simmer, stirring with a whisk until a creamy sauce is formed, 10-12 minutes on low heat. This can be done several hours in advance and gently reheated when ready to serve.
Once pasta is cooked, gently mix with the ricotta sauce.
- For the squid ink sauce: heat some olive oil in a high sided pan. Cook all of the veggise and tomato for about 10 minutes until softened.
Add the wine and stock. reduce by half, about 10 minutes longer.
- Blend all of the veggies together with an immersion blender, you should have the consistency of a thick soup. If needed, add a bit more broth or water.
Add the squid ink and mix it in to create a black sauce.
Add the squid and cook for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add extra water as needed. This sauce can be prepared a few hours in advance as well. Reheat gently.
If plating, serve a bit of black sauce on top or on the side of your Ricotta Sauce Linguine. For large groups, serve the Ricotta pasta and Squid Ink Sauce in separate vessels.
- For the pasta, place flour in volcano shape.