We’re big fans of Alison Roman’s latest collection of recipes, an ode to dining in with emphasis on big flavors (and small commitments). Pick up a copy and rejuvenate your home cooking game from every angle. This pasta with crispy squid is the heart bowl of seafood pasta you’ve been craving.
This is sort of an all-star pasta dish for me. It’s got all the hits: crispy squid, caramelized lemons, and lots of fresh chile. The key here is to give the squid the space and time it needs to brown properly. This means working in batches, being patient, and letting it do its thing in the skillet. You’ll notice that despite being patted dry beforehand, squid has quite a bit of liquid in it, which tends to come out while cooking. This is okay, and while it looks like maybe your squid is simmering rather than sautéing, the liquid will evaporate and the squid will brown, and there will be dark, crispy bits on the bottom of the skillet. Those bits are what you came here for. When scraped up with a bit of pasta water, simmering along with those fresh chiles and caramelized lemon slices, they are what make this whole thing so damn delicious, creating a sauce to coat every piece of pasta, inspiring you to shout, “Squid! I finally get it!”
NOTE: When you’re buying squid, there is no shame in purchasing the frozen kind; most of the stuff you find at the grocery store is previously frozen and then thawed anyway. Just make sure you get a nice mix of tentacles and bodies to vary the textures.
- 12 ounces pasta, such as noodle like spaghetti or linguine, or a short shape like campanelle or spaccatelli
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 pound cleaned squid bodies and tentacles, bodies sliced into 1/4-inch rings, tentacles halved
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
- 1 red Fresno chili or jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced into rings, seeds removed, if you like
- 1 1/2 cups fresh dill, cilantro, basil and/or mint leaves
For the pasta
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente (time will vary depending on pasta type, so consult the box). Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water; set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the squid and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring only a few times, until the squid is golden brown and crisped up around the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate or bowl and set aside. Repeat with another 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the remaining squid (no need to wipe the skillet between batches).
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the garlic and lemon slices; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring pretty frequently, until the garlic is golden and the lemons start to caramelize around the edges, about 4 minutes. Return the squid to the skillet along with the chile pepper and stir to coat. Add the pasta, along with ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss everything together, using a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet (this is where the good stuff is).
Season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until a sauce has formed (you might need to add a bit more pasta water to do this), 2 to 3 minutes. Scatter the herbs over the top right before serving.