Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Black spaghetti with shrimp, artichoke, fennel & olive

Last time we went for a trip in Rome, our hotel located at a residential area. The neighborhood vegetable stores were so many, crates and crates of artichoke, fennel, zucchini flowers stacking up high, took up half of the sidewalks and all corners. Merely looking at them I already felt very nourishing! The same feeling that I got while preparing this dish today - sauteed artichoke head, fennel bulb and green olive, tossed in cooked cuttlefish ink spaghetti, finally flourished with a bit lemon juice.

Some notes to two of the ingredients. First the cuttlefish ink spaghetti. I had expected some sort of pronounced flavor, but really none. Perhaps cuttlefish ink isn't supposed that way. Perhaps other brands do better. Perhaps I have a fish tongue (I love crab roes, shrimp's head, salmon's belly). Second, the fennel. It's my first try, after seeing the delicious fennel dishes at Chris' blog Mele Cotte. 99% of the licorice scent in my fennel has gone once it's cooked, it's fine since I don't fancy for licorice. It now tasted more like cooked celery or cabbage, although I have to admit, I'd be more thrilled if I only paid the price of celery or cabbage for fennel :) :) When prepared the ingredients, I just eyeballed the amount, but I still very concentrated, kept thinking what the final flavor I wanted to accomplish ... something very tangy and spicy (hot)... then my hands automatically got judgement. And the pasta turned out exactly what I wanted.

Recipe (yield: 2 persons as the first course)

*if you use tubular pasta, you can cut the vegetable chunky)

  • 2 servings of cuttlefish ink spaghetti
  • some shrimps. If they're too big, dice them up.
  • 1 small fennel bulb, finely sliced
  • 1 small artichoke, sliced. I used oil-preserved one
  • small handful of green olives, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • olive oil for cooking
  • extra virgin olive oil (fruity preferable) for final drizzling
  • red chili pepper flakes
  • A bit fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste


  • Bring a big pot of water to boil, to cook my pasta will take 10 minutes, so I also start to saute the other ingredients as they take about the same amount of time.
  • Pre-heat a skillet, add a generous amount of olive oil, saute the fennel with a pinch of salt over medium/ medium-low heat for 5 - 7 minutes. Raise up the heat, add more oil as needed, add garlic and shrimps, stir for a minute or 2 (don't overcook). Add artichoke and green olive, cook for another minute. Drain the pasta, fold them into the same skillet, toss with lemon juice and salt to taste. Drizzle more e.v. olive oil. Sprinkle chili flakes. Immediately serve them on warm plate.

I contribute this recipe to Presto Pasta Night, found by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. Please join us or hop over on Friday to check out the round-up!



Anh said...

Gattina, glad to know someone who has a fish tounge *wink*. I like to eat the same sort of things, too. :D Not much chance to eat them here (laziness on my part, and also the price), but when I am in Vietnam, nothing can stop me (My dad is obsessed with seafood).

Back to your spaghetti, it looks so wonderful! I love the colour. It is great that you matched it with shrimp and lovely vegies.

Anonymous said...

This looks great! I wish I was as adventurous as you using the cuttlefish ink. I don't know...

I am sorry a lot of the taste went away with the saute. Mine did too, and I guess I need to go back and add that to my posting. The fennel slaw, since it is raw fennel, will be more licorishy (made up word..hee hee).

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I can relate to the disappointment of cuttlefish ink pasta not tasting particularly fishy. I think it´s used mostly for visual effect, since the taste isn´t really extraordinary, especially considering what you pay for it!

Anonymous said...

Gattina- This is a fabulous post...unusual and yet so simple. It brings back great memories of Trastevere and the artichokes at the market.

Freya said...

I make black rice and you make black spaghetti! Looks pretty!

Unknown said...

You're so right abt the taste( or rather lack of) of squid ink. I've had squid ink risotto and bread before, both have no special taste at all.

Your pasta dish looks delish, as always :P

Ruth Daniels said...

Gattina, wonderful post! It looks beautiful as usual.

Like you, I'm always disappointed when trying a new ingredient because it smells so divine and tastes so potent raw...but then loses so much in the cooking. It sounds like you certainly regrouped quickly though.

Thanks so much for taking time to do Presto Pasta Nights again.

Happy Easter!

FH said...

OMG!! Gattina,those black Spaghetti look like black snakes curled around!!!Scary!;D

Cuttle fish ink spaghetti , eh? Looks great.Thanks for the new dish.

Anonymous said...

What an exotic looking dish. I love it, it has such an elegant flare to it. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Anonymous said...

I've never seen black spaghetti...it's visually unique though. Rome is beautiful isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Gattina that looks so wonderful.

Pizza and pasta are my very favorite foods so I must hop over to the pasta link before I sign off!


Gattina Cheung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gattina Cheung said...

Anh, the problem in here is the price too high. True, preparing shellfish tend to take more time. Thanks for your sweet words, I did enjoy the dish a lot :D

Chris, please don't say sorry daring! But glad you left me comment, then I got back to check my post, then realized I had used a wrong expression :P No-so-licorishy is fine, can't wait to explore more about this veg! Your recipes sound really wonderful, I just hope when fennel's in season (???), then I can pay much less :D

Marce, it's quite challenging to plate this food esp this wiggling black thing. I know this color should have been looked better if on my jacket or bags :D Oh the price, it isn't high, only 30% higher than that of regular pasta. Texture is great though.

Sandi, I missed the city tempo at Trastevere, too bad last time we run of of time, couldn't go there again...

Freya, yes I just saw it, love your black rice pudding!

Angie, but what's the point to make them black? I mean, (a) because the color makes them look better. But not. or (b), it tastes different. But not. I think if I use fresh ink, the flavor should be bolder *?* But thanks my pal, always with be giving me encouragement and input :) :)

Ruth, oh you are so kind! And I got your reply via e-mail, happy Easter to you too!
That might be the reason why I grouped in more ingredients, probably I aimed for a complex flavor in the beginning. Most of the time, I make my pasta dish very simple though. Yes, will "see" you on Friday!

Asha, you scare of snake? Mmm... someday I'll tell you about my story about it, kekee.

Ari, oh thank you sweetie!

Windwhisperer, if inside residential area in Rome, it has nothing special. But their life style (coffee, sweet, eat, talk loud, and being nosy) is what appeals to me the most :D

Sue, me too, pasta and pizza... or any carb. You're welcome, great to have you visit :D

Mishmash ! said...

Gattina, black spaghetti, cuttle fish ink...never heard of it till now...!! So u have visited Rome too , huh ? Lucky YOU !!!

Happy Easter, dear :)Enjoy your holidays!


Anonymous said...

I've seen this kind of squid/cuttlefish ink spaghetti before but n'evr tasted it. How does it taste? Somewhat taste like wholewheat pasta ?

Thks for visiting my food site :)

Brilynn said...

Black spaghetti is so striking!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

What an exotic dish this is Gattina! As always, your photos are just gorgeous. I used to make squid ink pasta when I lived in RI; it reminds me of yours. And those desserts from your last few posts are heavenly!

Callipygia said...

oh now you're talking! This is beautiful and can picture the taste combo. Cooking with fresh ink gives you a strong saline flavor reminiscent of roe/caviar.

Warda said...

I have always been intrigued by this fun looking pasta but didn't know how to cook it. This recipe is just delicious, it makes me wanna try it. wonderful picture too,Gtina. As always. Thanks for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Gattina,ooooh! would say you are into adventurous cooking, wonderful display of your culinary talents:)
Black spaghetti is quite a new concept in food, Black dishes are something different and never thought i would get to see one some day.Happy Easter!

Peabody said...

The contrast of the colors is so striking.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I fear I may sound strange when I say I'm much more likely to try the black spaghetti now that you tell me it isn't a strong taste. I sounds like the effect is more visual than taste. Your pictures are stunning.

Gattina Cheung said...

Shn, thank you! squish/cuttlefish ink pasta is pretty common. But in Chinese cooking, we just throw away that ink sac.

tigerfish, it just likes like regular pasta to me. I wonder if make it fresh at home, the taste should be more potent (like roe, as one of the bloggers here describes)

Brliynn, I'm thinking of getting a new jacket in this color :D

Susan *hug hug* Love to see you back!

Calli, I may not trouble myself to make some from fresh ink... but your description is so precise! Oh thanks for the compliment, I did spend an extra minute to curl the pasta, otherwise it will look like a road-kill...

Rose, thank for your sweet words. Try it if you can get it... and if it doesn't cost too much in your area.

Lera, thank you my friend! *hug* Talking about black, Chinese love to eat food black... I'm not kidding... so I am very comfortable to handle this dish :D

Peabody, yes it is :D

Tanna, please go try, but as I said, it doesn't taste special to me. I only paid $2 for my pack. Texture is wonderful.

Sia said...

i have seen these black spaghetti and also wild rice. they r gorgeous isn't it? u have dressed them beautifully. it does look little scary for me. reminds me of long, black snake which was under my bed for few days w/o my notice... god!!!

Lis said...

I've always wanted to try black pasta! Sorry it didn't taste any different. But the rest of the ingredients sure sound wonderful! Beautiful pictures, sweetie =)

Bong Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bong Mom said...

Since we do not eat alot of Pasta I was not aware that there is Black Pasta too :) You present it beautifully, but like Asha I am scared of it too, it does have a slithery feel to it

All the best for your Easter Meal, is it on Sunday ?

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter Weekend to you and yours Gattina...all the best!

Anonymous said...

gattina, an exotic dish. i have never seen black spaghetti. does it taste like the regular one?

Gattina Cheung said...

Sia, now I know you scare of snake too... interesting, I'm not that scared (knock their teeth off first, of course... :D) There's a market in Hongkong selling (lots) of snakes, my favorite place :D

Lis, you are such a darling. It's ok, the pasta texture is splendid! I like anything about pasta, from very complex to very simple.

Sanddeepa, easter for some religions actually lasts for a period of time. But this coming Suning is one of biggest the celebrations. I will be hosting a party *cross my finger... haven't done anything yet*
I love any rice, bread, pasta or carb dish, but pasta (cook time only 10 mins) is a time-saver esp when I really get too busy.
So many of you scare of snakes, for some reasons I see them very pretty, esp on Versace, hehee...

Windwhisperer, you too buddy!

Reena, for this brand, I say taste the same as the regular, strange eh?!

sher said...

What gorgoeus pictures ! I've always wondered what that kind of pasta tastes like. I love the different flavors that you used, particularly the fennel. Love it. Brava, Gattina!