Spaghetti with Crispy Squid and Chili Oil

This pasta is spicy, herby, lemony, and calls for both oil and butter. (So it’s indulgent, too). Make sure your oil is hot enough before you cook the squid, so it gets a nice sear on it. And don’t forget to save your pasta water! This is the velvety, punchy, delicious sauce your spaghetti—and squid!—always dreamed of being dressed in. Pair with elegant southern Italian Enotria Ciro Rosso.

Serves: 4 

Ingredients 

1 package spaghetti

1 cup Calabrian chili oil

6 Calabrian chilis, sliced (or whatever peppers jarred in oil you’d like)

2 cloves garlic, slices

1 pound fresh squid (rings and tentacles)

kosher salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup pasta water

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup fresh basil

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/2 cup fresh chives

Juice and zest of one lemon

Directions 

In a large pot of generously salted boiling water, cook pasta until not quite al dente, about 5 minutes. While pasta is boiling, pat squid dry with paper towel, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

In another large pot or pan (something like a braiser or dutch oven works, too) warm Calabrian chilis and oil on medium high heat. Add garlic and tomato paste and stir. When garlic is tender, add squid to the oil mixture. Do not stir too much. Allow the squid to sear on each side so it is crispy. Cook about 6 minutes.

Once squid is cooked, remove it from the pan (so it stays crispy). Add one cup of pasta water and deglaze the pan. Once the water is cooked down a bit, add the pasta by removing it from the boiling pot with tongs (so water does not drain off). Add butter, stir and cook until pasta is al dente and butter is melted.

Turn heat down to simmer, add lemon juice, lemon zest, and put the squid back in. Roughly chop herbs and add to the pasta.  Stir to incorporate and serve immediately.

Lee Kalpakis is a recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in her family’s restaurant in the Hudson Valley and has since worked as a cook, host, producer, and writer in the food media world. She loves natural wine, summer produce, and rock and roll music.