I apologize for the poor lighting in my kitchen. But I think the real reason you can't really see my plate is because the dish was essentially black-on-black.
Walking around West Side Market on Friday afternoon, I discovered a stand called Ohio City Pasta. They, as one would imagine, specialize in fresh pasta. Ashamed as I am, I have actually never bought fresh pasta, despite its availability at Reading Terminal (you know the Italian place in the back? Go to the side counter). The appeal of Ohio City Pasta is that it sells interestingly flavored pasta in individual portions.
I've been cooking for one for a little over two weeks now, and let me tell you: It is easier to buy groceries for a party of ten then for one. A box of pasta is about 4 meals. Economically, this is fantastic, but do I really want to be eating that much pasta? Not really.
I chose the squid ink pasta because not only did it sound a little badass, but it looked a little badass. I mean, how cool is black pasta? And for $1.25, I figured it was worth it.
The issue then became what to pair the pasta with. I received a good suggestion from my friend Courtney--something with garlic (olive oil, chile flakes, lemon, parsley and few tomatoes, she added). I read up on squid ink and decided seafood might be the best pairing to the pasta. With Prince Edward Island Mussels costing only $2 a pound (compared to $5 for the freshest clams), I decided mussels would be a great acommpainment.
The following recipe is really easy and, again, pretty cheap to reproduce. It is also simply delicious--parsley, butter, garlic and the mussel juices combine to create a light sauce that highlights the seafood undertones of the pasta--and it all combines for you in the oven.
I tried using a really good applewood smoked bacon with the clams, but they didn't cook the whole way through. Despite adding a deeper flavor element, I think you can go without. I'd be anxious to try a cured meet, like prosciutto.
Parsley and Garlic Mussels with Squid Ink Pasta
Based on a recipe from Gourmet, 2000
Serves 1 very hungry boy
1 lb mussels, cleaned
2-3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley. chopped
1/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. fresh squid ink pasta
1. Set the butter out to soften. Clean the mussels using a potato scrubber--discard any that are cracked or open. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Spread mussels in a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Blend all remaining ingredients to a paste with a whisk. Spoon mixture over mussels (see first photo). Cover tightly with foil and bake in middle of oven until all mussels are open, 12 to 15 minutes (discard any unopened mussels). Meanwhile, boil a small pot of water.
3. Boil pasta for 1.5-2 minutes. Plate pasta, spoon broth from the mussels over the pasta. Plate mussels on top, and spoon on more broth.
The broth is also delicious mopped up with bread.