My trip to Rome and Florence in 2017 was probably the most interesting trip I’ve ever taken. There were so many highs and just as many lows, all of which contributed to my perception of life today. From my girlfriend getting her wallet stolen, phone stolen, encounters with past beaus, etc. I’ll spare the details. But then there’s the memories and bond created by going through the experience itself is priceless, definitely an Eat, Pray, Love adventure. We visited the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Florence Duomo, Trevi Fountain, Spanish steps, and the gorgeous vineyards in Tuscany, all of which holds a place dear to my heart.
Since I’m writing about Italy, it’s only fitting to create a pasta dish. With my obsession with squid ink, I went to Eataly for fresh squid ink pasta to make this dish. If Eataly is not available around you, you may be able to find squid ink pasta through other specialty Italian markets, or there’s always Amazon. The flavor profile of this dish is a bit of everything- umami from the ink, sweetness from tomatoes, saltiness from kielbasa, and fresh lemon and parsley to lighten things up. Serve with rustic bread to soak up all the sauce.
1 lb fresh squid ink pasta
4 tbsp mushroom seasoning (you can substitute with chicken/seafood bouillon but this may be saltier so start with 1 tbsp and taste as you go)
3 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
14.5 oz can of stewed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 lb kielbasa
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb clams
1 lb asparagus
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta until al dente, remove pasta but don’t drain. Using the same pot, blanch asparagus for 2 minutes and remove. Reserve 2-3 cups of the pasta liquid, add the mushroom seasoning or bouillon, mix well and set aside. In a large deep pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, 2 cups of the reserved pasta liquid, red pepper flakes, and kielbasa, cook for about 7 minutes on medium heat. Add shrimp and clams, cook for 3 minutes until opaque. Add pasta and asparagus, mix well and cook until pasta is completely coated, you’ll see the sauce start to thicken up (about 5-7 minutes). If it seems a bit dry, add more of the reserved liquid. Add lemon and parsley in the final minute, mix well. Serve immediately while still saucy, top with more parsley, salt and pepper to taste.