Winter Zucchini and Calamari Mescolanza

There were a few surprises hiding in the vegetable garden when we returned from our long sojourn in Indonesia: a crop of zucchini, some small ruby radicchio, herbs, pumpkin, chilli, and a bundle of borlotti beans. I hung on to the last zucchini of the season until the first day of winter. Now we will be zucchini free until next November. Some may say that’s a blessing! Six months of fecundity and benevolence and six months of none. Ci vediamo in primavera.

To celebrate slicing into the last one, I constructed a dish made from my favourite ingredients: fresh calamari, radicchio, garlic, chilli, good olive oil, wine and squid ink pasta. This isn’t a pasta dish as such: the black tangle of pasta gives a little more body to the dish but doesn’t dominate. The following recipe is an attempt to quantify a spontaneous dish. And, given the absence of winter light, my photos are hazy and dull.

Winter Zucchini and Calamari Mescolanza
Winter Zucchini and Calamari Mescolanza

Zucchini e Calamari Mescolanza  (serves two)

  • two tablespoons EV olive oil
  • half a medium zucchini, very finely sliced
  • 2 fresh calamari, cleaned then sliced thinly *
  • radicchio leaves to taste, shredded roughly
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • one fresh hot chilli, chopped finely
  • one handful of black squid ink pasta (about 60 gr)
  • white wine
  • salt, black pepper

Method

  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Drain, retaining a little cooking water.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan. You need a lively heat as this is a fast dish.
  • Add the zucchini slices and toss well till lightly coloured and very soft.
  • Add the garlic and chilli, toss well.
  • Add the finely sliced calamari, cook for around two minutes only, tossing as you go.
  • then add the shredded radicchio leaves and toss for a one minute.
  • add a good slurp of wine, reduce a little, then add the pasta to the pan, add a little cooking water, reduce, then season.
  • Serve in wide, heated bowls.*

Notes

* A good fish monger should clean the calamari for you. Don’t bother using the rubber tubes from the supermarket. They will spoil a good dish. Fresh squid is a good substitute and more economical. Don’t throw out the wings. Freeze them and add to another dish later, such as a pasta or risotto marinara. Read the following recipe from  Sandra at Please Pass the Recipe for an economical approach to using seafood scraps.

* Why wide heated bowls? I never used to heat plates and bowls when I was working full-time and coming home to cook for five or more. Since then, I have adopted bowl heating as a matter of course, particularly for pasta, soup and risotto. Imagine making a lovely hot dish and then plonking it into a freezing bowl? The temperature of the food cools almost immediately, whereas a hot bowl acts as a food warmer for the duration of the meal.

For my son Andrew, who recently commented about the heating of bowls, thinking that his mother had finally turned totally anal and lost the plot. He may be right! 

13 thoughts on “Winter Zucchini and Calamari Mescolanza”

  1. I love the sound of this dish, my kind of ingredients! I think plate warming is essential but it falls into that category of tasks that easily get pushed aside when busy. If you are living “slowly” it becomes routine.

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  2. All of my favourite things. I’ve got everything on the ingredient list minus the squid ink pasta. Will substitute some yummy red chilli pasta instead. Our courgette season is just beginning! Funny, I do the same with those wings – great additions to soup and will now try them in pastas. It’s not really anal to warm plates and bowls, but it is one of those things that falls by the wayside if you are in a hurry. However, that said, it is essential here in chilly England and makes you wish you had an AGA.

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  3. I wish I had a Aga too. My sons and daughter like to call me anal ( affectionately I hope) when they think I am becoming too particular, knowing full well that they grew up in a chaotic household. There are many other insults we share.
    A red chilli pasta will be perfect. I used the squid ink pasta because there was a only a small bit left and it seemed to suit the darkness of the season.

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  4. Looks a very interesting dish. Warming bowls, especially for pasta, seems a very sensible idea to me, but certain members of my family occasionally think I am ‘anal’ as well!! xx

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  5. Heated bowls in winter, good move, at cooking school we had to heat every dish we served in (if the food was hot..). I admit to not doing that anymore except at dinner parties…but you have got me pondering. Love the idea of zuchinni and squid together.

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  6. I love these beautifully simple but stunning dishes… the spontaneity it what is magic.
    Dad always heated our plates, so I’ve done it forever… hate a warm dinner on a cold plate.
    I’ve not been called anal -to my face anyway- but MIL gets close with “fuss-pot”. I say if you don’t have standards you got nuthin’!

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  7. At this time of year, I’m definitely heating the plates. Our house is really cold so when I take the plates out of the cupboard it feels like they’re emerging from the fridge. I can’t put hot food on those! I warm them in the oven until they burn our fingers xx

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