Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pasta with Calamari and Sweet Peas in Garlicky Cream Sauce

"Calamari" means squid served as food. Its tubes and tentacles are mild, sweet, and delicious, whether paired with a sweet and spicy chile sauce or a creamy, garlicky sauce, as in this recipe. 

To cook squid properly, one of two methods is needed: hot and fast or low and slow. In other words, this seafood needs a quick sauté or a longer low-temperature braise to bring out its tenderness and best flavors. Otherwise, it can become tough and chewy.

Squid Bodies and Tentacles
Here, the calamari is sautéed only in olive oil with salt and pepper, complemented by green peas and a savory white sauce loaded with garlic and rich taste.

Note: I blended a small amount of provolone cheese into the sauce simply to add to its creaminess, with a little bit of mild cheese flavor. The provolone also helps to thicken the half-and-half, so heavy cream isn’t necessary to create a rich, creamy sauce.

Serves 4

  • 8 oz thin spaghetti (or other long pasta)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese  
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb calamari, bodies cleaned and cut into rings, tentacles split or coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sweet peas (thawed, if frozen)
Squid Rings with Split Tentacles
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water 6-7 minutes (or until al dente). Drain.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook slowly, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
Butter and Garlic Beginning to Cook
  1. Whisk in the half-and-half and season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer.
  2. Stir in the cheese and reduce the heat to low. Cook slowly until melted and well blended, 2 minutes. Keep the sauce warm.
Garlicky Cream Sauce
  1. Meanwhile, heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the calamari rings and tentacles and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the seafood is tender and almost cooked through, 5-6 minutes.
Calamari Beginning to Cook
Cooked Calamari
  1. Add the peas and cook 1 minute.
  2. Add the drained pasta to the skillet and stir in the cream sauce. Stir well to combine.
Peas Added
Pasta and Sauce Added
Divide the pasta and sauce among 4 shallow bowls and serve right away.

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