Saturday, August 19, 2017

OH, THOSE KINKY PEPPERS!

One of summer’s delights are the many kinds of capsicum peppers—bell peppers in stop-and-go semáforo colors, red, yellow and green; chiles from hot to mild; stubby green Padrón peppers, and kinky, crinkly, skinny, green Italian frying peppers. 


Kinky green frying peppers. Choose straight ones for stuffing.

The green frying peppers are especially abundant and popular in local cooking. They’re fried whole and served as a tapa or side with grilled meat. They’re a basic ingredient in sofrito. Chopped raw peppers go into gazpacho and into pipirrana and piriñaca salads. They’re even used for stuffing.

These peppers are thin skinned and thin fleshed. Their crisp texture makes them ideal for using raw in salads. Many are twisted, even kinky. Their flavor is bittersweet and fruity, not hot.

I decided to stuff a bunch of these green peppers. Instead of the usual meat or meat plus ham stuffing, I chose a filling of canned bonito. Bonito del norte is white albacore tuna. Canned in olive oil, bonito has completely replaced canned tuna—endangered blue-fin—in my cupboard. This is an easy stuffing mixture to make with what you’ve got in the pantry. For stuffing, choose the less kinky specimens of peppers.

Once filled, the peppers are lightly fried in olive oil before being finished in a fresh tomato sauce. Frying adds flavor and blisters the peppers’ thin skin, which all but disappears during cooking.

Peppers stuffed with tuna are first fried, then simmered in fresh tomato sauce.

Stuffed peppers, a summertime treat. These are filled with canned albacore tuna.

Kids will love these tuna-stuffed peppers served with pasta.


Peppers Stuffed with Tuna
Pimientos Rellenos con Bonito

White albacore tuna from a can.
5-6 (6-inch) green frying peppers
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups tomato sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups drained canned tuna, flaked
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Olive oil for frying
Pasta for serving (optional)


Remove stems and seeds from the peppers. Press the stem in until it breaks free. Pull the stem out with the seeds. Shake out remaining seeds.

Push stem in to release seeds.

Pull seeds out.












Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl and add the milk to soften them.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet and sauté the onion on medium heat until softened, 5 minutes. Squeeze out the breadcrumbs, discarding the milk. Add the bread to the skillet. Add 3 tablespoons of the tomato sauce and the tuna. Remove from heat. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. (Salt may not be needed, as canned tuna is fairly salty.) Stir in the beaten egg. Let the mixture cool.

Fry the stuffed peppers lightly before finishing in sauce.
Fill the peppers with the tuna stuffing mixture. Use a spoon or skewer to push it in. 

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a deep skillet. Fry the peppers, turning, until they are lightly browned and blistered on all sides. Remove. Pour off remaining oil.

Add the tomato sauce to the skillet or to a cazuela and place the peppers on top. Cook, partially covered to prevent splattering, 15 minutes. Turn the peppers over and cook 15 minutes more. The tomato sauce should thicken, but don’t allow the peppers to scorch.

Serve the peppers hot or room temperature, with pasta, if desired.


Stuffed peppers and tomato sauce are good served with pasta.

Fresh Tomato Sauce
Salsa de Tomate Fresco

Fresh tomato sauce, ready for many uses.

No need to peel the tomatoes before making the sauce, as later it gets pureed and sieved. The sauce keeps, covered and refrigerated, up to a week.

Makes about 2 cups sauce.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups coarsely chopped plum tomatoes (about 1 ¾ pounds)
¼ cup white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and sauté the onion, carrot and garlic. Add the tomatoes, wine and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the sauce, partially covered, until thick, 30 minutes.

Puree the sauce in a blender and pass it through a sieve, discarding the skins and seeds.

More recipes for peppers—piquillo, Padrón and bell.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

GAZPACHO WITHOUT TOMATOES?

Last year by mid-August, I was in tomato heaven, enjoying gazpacho daily and stashing garden tomatoes in the freezer for sofrito futures. This has been a disappointing year for tomatoes. I haven’t made a single gazpacho so far. I could buy tomatoes, sure, but they would never match the incomparable flavor of the home-grown ones.


Last year, tomatoes from the garden. This year, zilch.

But, while I’m bereft of tomatoes (and cucumbers and peppers, too), I’ve got a basket full of sweet pears. Maybe I could make gazpacho with pears in place of tomatoes?

Pears to replace tomatoes in gazpacho?

By my own definition, gazpacho requires only bread, garlic and olive oil and it doesn’t have to be red. Tomatoes and other fruits of the vegetable garden are modern additions to what is a very ancient peasant food. (Although, I have been pretty strident on what gazpacho doesn’t include: no tomato juice; no canned tomatoes; no tomatoes dropped in boiling water to facilitate peeling them; no ketchup; no chicken stock or beef stock; no pepper or chile; no salsa; no beets or watermelon or strawberries.)

So, pear gazpacho it is. With the addition of ground almond meal, it has similarities to ajo blanco, a white garlic gazpacho made with almonds. While gazpacho is a savory cold soup, served as an aperitif, this one, with some tweaking, makes an excellent dessert!

Gazpacho needs a garnish, both for visual and textural contrast. Crispy croutons are good. Crunchy chopped scallions would go with the sweet pears. In honor of the tomatoes I have not got, I used chopped cherry tomatoes plus a little shredded basil.

Chilled pear gazpacho served with chopped cherry tomatoes and sprigs of basil.

Serve with crispy croutons or bread sticks.

Olive oil and bread give the gazpacho a creamy texture.

Pear Gazpacho
Gazpacho de Peras

Makes 4 (½ -cup) servings.

Pears, almond meal, garlic, bread.
½ cup bread crumbs (1 slice, crusts removed)
Water
2 cups diced pears (4 pears)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup unsweetened ground almonds
3 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon aguardiente (anisette liqueur, optional)
Tomatoes and basil leaves to garnish



To make a sweet dessert pear gazpacho, omit the garlic and salt. Replace the vinegar with 1 tablespoon of honey. Use ¼ cup cream in place of the olive oil. Add a pinch of cinnamon or allspice. Blend the pears with bread, as for the savory gazpacho.

Place the crumbs in a small bowl and add ½ cup water. Soak the bread 10 minutes to soften. Squeeze out the bread.

Place the pears in a blender with the lemon juice (to prevent fruit from turning dark). Add the bread, ground almonds, garlic and salt. Blend until smooth. Add  the oil, vinegar and anisette if using. Blend to emulsify to a creamy texture. Blend in ½ cup water. Chill the gazpacho.

Stir the gazpacho before serving. (Add additional water if gazpacho seems too thick.) Serve the gazpacho in small cups, garnished with chopped tomatoes and shredded basil.








Follow the five-part “Gazpacho Diaries” for just about everything you ever wanted to know about gazpacho. A recipe for traditional Andalusian gazpacho is here.

More variations on gazpacho:

More recipes with pears: 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

THE REMAINS OF THE BARBECUE

When I fire up the grill on the patio, it’s never just to cook one meal. It requires so much  charcoal and/or olive wood to make a bed of coals on only one side of it that I try to get as many foods on it as possible. 


Use coals to cook foods in several shifts.

So, if there’s steak or ribs or a boned leg of lamb for tonight’s meal, then there are adobo-marinated chicken legs to grill for tomorrow. Eggplant, peppers, corn in the husks, potatoes wrapped in foil, whole onions, garlic, leeks. Some of the vegetables are flame-roasted while the fire is just getting started; others are grilled over the dying coals after other foods have been removed.

Roasted corn that we don’t eat at the first meal I will add to a salad of black beans and green beans. The eggplant and onions and garlic become escalivada, a Catalan dish that can be served cold or room temperature.




Charred eggplant, pepper, onion and garlic to make escalivada the next day.

Grill-roasted eggplant, green and red peppers, onions and garlic--add olive oil, lemon juice and it's escalivada.  Mash the soft, roasted garlic with some of the pepper juices and oil and drizzle over the vegetables.

Serve escalivada as a side dish or heap it on toasts as a tapa.


Bell peppers--roast them today, use them tomorrow.

Tomatoes can be roasted right on the grill or in an aluminum foil pan. They're easy to peel.

A heap of roasted red bell peppers, peeled and torn into strips and dressed with olive oil becomes a favorite summer salad.

This time, the remains of the barbecue—roasted peppers, tomatoes and potatoes—inspire me to make an Aragonese dish, cordero al chilindrón, a lamb stew with summery flavors.


Red bell peppers and tomatoes make this lamb stew a summertime dish.

Tender lamb cooks with grill-roasted peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.

Chilled rosado wine goes with a summer stew.


This festive dish is usually served accompanied by patatas fritas, fries, or potatoes cooked right in the stew. I took advantage of left-over roasted potatoes from the grill, adding them to the lamb and peppers at the end of cooking.

A summer stew needn’t be served piping hot. Let it set 10 or 15 minutes before serving. A chilled rosado wine and sliced garden tomatoes complete the meal. 

Lamb Stew with Red Peppers
Cordero al Chilindrón

Peppers and tomatoes may also be roasted in the oven or under the broiler--but the smoky aroma of the grill gives them an extra dimension.

Use any boneless cut of lamb for this stew—shoulder, leg, loin, breast. 

Serves 4.

4 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 ¾ pounds lamb, cut in 2-inch chunks
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of thyme
Flour for dusting meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, julienned
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ cups peeled and chopped roasted or raw tomatoes
Red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup white wine
2 baked potatoes, peeled and cut in pieces
2 ounces serrano ham, diced (½  cup)
Chopped parsley to garnish


Tear the roasted peppers into strips and reserve.

Season the meat with salt, pepper and thyme. Dust it with flour (the meat doesn’t need to be coated with flour).

Heat the oil in a cazuela or deep skillet. Add the lamb and brown it on all sides, Remove the meat and reserve.

Sauté onions and roasted pepper strips.
Add the onions to the pan and sauté 5 minutes until they are softened. Add the garlic and the strips of red pepper. Sauté on medium heat 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, if using. Fry on medium heat 5 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the wine. Bring to a boil. Return the lamb to the pan. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Turn the meat and continue cooking until lamb is very tender, about 30 minutes more. If using the cut-up baked potatoes, add them about 10 minutes before lamb is ready.

Add the diced ham and heat 1 minute.

Allow the stew to set 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.


The remains, for another day.

Recipes for escalivada, here and here.
Another recipe for lamb stew with red peppers, this one for winter is here.
Another recipe for chilindrón, this one with chicken is here. My chilindrón recipes from Aragón are made with red bell peppers, but in Navarra and La Rioja, chilindrón usually is made with dried red peppers called choriceros. Choricero peppers are a mild (not hot), bittersweet chile also used in making chorizo sausage.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

EAT YOUR WEEDS!


My aerobics teacher, Reme, came into morning gym class with bags of weeds, offering them to anyone willing to try. “Verdolaga,” she said. “It grows wild in my garden. I use the leaves in salads.” I pulled one of the glossy leaves off a stem and tasted. A little tart, nice.


“Do you use it in traditional cooking?” I asked. “No, not really. People feed it to the animals, but don’t cook with it.” 




Purslane (verdolaga) is an edible wild green often considered a weed. (Photo by Reme Valenzuela.)


An on-line search revealed that verdolaga is purslane, a weed, an herb, a wild green. It’s used in Greek and Middle Eastern cooking, one of many wild herbs used in salads and cooked dishes. The Mexicans favor it, braised with pork or chicken in a green chile sauce with tomatillos.

In a cookbook from the Valencia region I discovered a recipe with purslane, in "ensaladas de los frailes"—the monks’ salad. It calls for three kinds of wild greens, verdolagues tenders (tender purslane), camarroges (bitter wild chicory) and lletsons (cerraja in castellano; sow thistle in English) mixed with canned tuna, black cuquello olives, olive oil, black pepper and salt.

I also discovered that verdolaga, common purslane (portulaca oleracea) is a real superfood, rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals and amazingly high in heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acid. A purslane salad and a heap of sardines (also rich in Omega-3) would be a real heart-protective meal. Eat your weeds, kids!

Both leaves and stems of purslane are edible.

Pinch off leaves to use in salads. They are glossy on the top side, quite fleshy.

Wild purslane grows in lawns, along roadsides, in fields. It should be picked from places where it’s not subject to pollution or pesticides. (Hey, it’s growing in my garden too!) It may turn up at farmers’ markets too, as it seems to be trending. Stems, leaves and yellow flowers are edible. Place in a bowl of water and swish them around. Drain. They can be used raw or cooked. I used the leaves in a salad, combining them with watermelon, cucumber and feta cheese. I made a traditional vegetable dish, called zarangollo, cooking purslane with the vegetables.

Purslane leaves add a mild citric taste to a salad of watermelon and cucumber.


Chopped purslane cooks with potatoes and zucchini in zarangollo, a Murcia dish.

Serve the zarangollo on toast as a tapa.

Salad with Purslane, Watermelon and Cucumber
Ensalada de Verdolaga con Sandía y Pepino





The salt in the dressing draws the liquid out of the watermelon and cucumber. Either add the salt, oil and lemon juice to the salad immediately before serving. Or, mix it all together and refrigerate. When ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to scoop the salad out of the accumulated juices.

1 cup seeded and cubed watermelon
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup purslane leaves
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of oregano
¼ cup diced feta cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Combine the watermelon, cucumber and purslane in a bowl. Add the scallions, salt, pepper, oregano, feta cheese, olive oil and lemon juice.

Vegetable Shake-Up with Purslane
Zarangollo con Verdolaga



Zarangollo is a popular dish in the Murcia region (eastern Spain). It usually consists of zucchini and potatoes cooked with onions in olive oil and scrambled with eggs. It´s served as a tapa or light supper dish. This version has wild purslane added to the vegetables.

Serves 4.

1-2 cups chopped purslane, leaves and stems
¼ cup olive oil
3 cups diced potatoes
½ cup chopped spring onions
2 cups diced zucchini
1 tablespoon chopped red bell pepper
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
Toast to serve

Blanch the purslane in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and reserve.

Heat the oil in a cazuela or large skillet. Add the potatoes and cook them, covered, stirring frequently, on medium heat 10 minutes. They do not need to brown.

Add the onions, zucchini, bell pepper and blanched purslane. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and zucchini are tender, 10 minutes more. 

Break eggs directly into the vegetables and stir them in.

Break eggs into the vegetables and stir them to mix. Cook only until eggs are set.

Serve hot or room temperature accompanied by toast.



Another recipe for zarangollo is here.

A recent story about purslane in the Chicago Tribune is here.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

COOKING WITH ALGAE

Every now and then a new product or ingredient shows up in my kitchen to pique my culinary interests. This week my son Ben came home from a trip to Galicia and Asturias (northern Cantabrian coast of Spain) with a bagful of cans and jars of products made with algae and a cookbook to go with them.


Where seaweed is coming from--intertidal waters on the Atlantic coast of Galicia. (Photo by Ben Searl.)

Cocina con Algas (Cooking with Algae) is an introduction to seaweed cuisine published by Porto-Muiños, a small, family-run company in A Coruña that packages edible seaweed harvested in Galicia and products made with seaweed.

In the book's intro, the company’s owner, Antonio Muiños, enthusiastically relates the firm’s mission as to take seaweed out of the exotic and make a place for it in the everyday diet. He’s collaborated with two well-known chefs, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch (Michelin-starred Disfrutar in Barcelona) who developed the recipes with the object of ending the prejudice that seaweed is only for Oriental cuisines and of bringing verduras del mar (“sea vegetables”) to a wider public.

Some of the seaweeds and products in the test kitchen of Porto-Muiño in A Coruña (Galicia). (Photo by Ben Searl.)

My adventures with algae began with processed seaweed products, packed in cans and jars, brought back from Galicia. I have wakame al natural; a Japanese algae salad (with three kinds of seaweed in a soy sauce dressing); mussels with wakame in escabeche. At my local health food shop I found a full range of dried seaweeds. I came home with a “starter kit” of sea spaghetti and kombu. 

The cookbook includes directions for preparing each of eight different seaweeds (in addition to sea spaghetti and kombu, they are sugar kelp, sea lettuce, wakame, Irish moss, nori and dulse).

Kombu requires 8-10 minutes soaking to rehydrate it, then 35-40 minutes cooking in water. Sea spaghetti, also known as "thongweed," long, brown “noodles,” requires 10 minutes soaking and only 10 minutes cooking. Both increase their volume about four times. Wakame needs 10 minutes to soak and 5 minutes cooking. It increases weight by ten times. (I used wakame canned in brine, so I didn’t need to soak and cook it.

How do they taste? Kombu has a pleasant iodine-y, seawater taste with a slight smokiness. It’s not at all fishy, but makes a good addition to soups and rice dishes in place of seafood. It’s chewy, in a nice way. The sea spaghetti is mild in flavor—sort of vegetable-y, think green beans and asparagus—with a texture like al dente linguine. Wakame has a delicate seafood taste, meaty texture and a slightly slimy consistency. Perfect in stews, I think.

Tips from the Porto-Muiño test kitchen:
•    Add a piece of seaweed to the pan when steaming open clams or mussels. Amazing flavor enhancer.
•    Spread dried seaweed (not soaked), such as sea spaghetti, kombu, sea lettuce, wakame, sugar kelp, nori or dulse, on a baking sheet and roast at 350ºF 5-8 minutes, or until very crisp. Break it up and crush in a mortar. Shake it through a sieve. Use the seaweed powder as a seasoning in place of salt. It goes well with eggs, fish and all vegetables.
•    After rehydrating sea spaghetti, drain it well, pat dry and toss in flour. Fry in olive oil until crisp and golden. ("Tastes just like chanquetes," says Ben.)


Here are some recipes adapted from Cocina con Algas.

"Russian" potato salad has pureed seaweed added to the mayo.

Filleted sardines are briefly baked with a filling of Japanese-flavored seaweed.

Noodles!--thin strips of squid, whole-wheat spaghetti and sea spaghetti (seaweed) with a garlicky ink sauce.

Potato Salad with Seaweed Mayonnaise
Ensaladilla Rusa con Mayonesa de Algas



Ensaladilla rusa, or “Russian” salad, is one of the most popular of Spanish tapas. It’s a salad of diced potatoes, carrots and peas dressed with mayonnaise. In this version, part of the mayonnaise is replaced with “tartare sauce” made with pureed algae.

I cooked the potatoes in a pan of boiling water with the kombu seaweed that I used to make the tartare sauce, adding the sea spaghetti for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Serves 6 as a tapa or side dish.

1 ¼ pounds potatoes (2 large)
1 carrot
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup cooked or frozen peas
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped red pimiento or piquillo pepper
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped sweet pickle
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ teaspoon or more salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup seaweed tartare sauce (recipe below)
Vinegar (about 1 tablespoon)
Chopped chives to garnish
Bread sticks or regañas to serve


Put the potatoes and carrot in a pan with water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes, depending on size. Drain. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them in ¾-inch dice. Peel and dice the carrot as well.

Place potatoes and carrots in a bowl and add the oil. Add the egg, chopped pimiento, scallions, pickle, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, mayonnaise and tartare sauce. Add a little vinegar to thin the sauce. Stir it into the potatoes. Taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed. Chill the salad.

Serve the potato salad in individual tapa dishes. Sprinkle with chives. Accompany with bread sticks or crispy regañas crackers.

Tartare Sauce with Seaweed and Olives
Salsa Tartar con Algas y Aceitunas

This is my own version of a seaweed tartare sauce, an ingredient called for in the recipe for ensaladilla rusa (“Russian” salad) in the algae cookbook. The sauce is produced by the Porto Muiños company, but I did not have a sample of it.

This makes about 1 ¼ cups sauce, more than you will need for the potato salad. Use the rest as a dip, straight or mixed with mayonnaise. Suggestions from the cookbook are to use it with smoked salmon, on toast with fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar; with stuffed eggs; with potato foam.

I used three kinds of seaweed in the sauce blend--sea spaghetti on the left, kombu on the right and wakame below.

½ cup cooked kombu
½ cup cooked sea spaghetti
½ cup cooked wakame
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup pitted and coarsely chopped black olives
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice


Put the three kinds of seaweed in a blender or food processor and blend them until fairly smooth. Add the shallot, mustard, olives, oil, salt and lemon juice and process until sauce is very smooth.

Sauce keeps, refrigerated, for 1 week. 

Baked Sardines Stuffed with Seaweed
Sardinas al Horno Rellenas de Alga

Sardines with a Japanese flavor, seaweed stuffing and shitake sauce.
 

This recipe, straight from the cookbook, uses two prepared ingredients—Japanese seaweed salad (with sea spaghetti, wakame, kombu, olive oil, sunflower oil, soy sauce and sesame seed) for the stuffing and shitake mushrooms Japanese style for the sauce.

The recipe calls for the sardines to roast for only 2 minutes. I roasted them 3 minutes and they were barely done. Maybe the chefs intended for them to be raw-ish, a la Japanese.

Serves 2.

6 sardines
1 can Japanese algae salad (ensalada de algas a la japonesa Porto-Muiños)
Salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 can Japanese-style shitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
10 bean sprouts
6 sprigs of cress 

Use fingers to "unzip" the spine of sardines.

Remove heads, scales and guts from the sardines. Rinse them in running water. Using fingers, pinch the center spine of the sardine, carefully lifting it out. Cut away the spine at the tail. Use scissors to cut out the dorsal fin. Spread the sardines open and blot them with paper towels.

Open and drain the can of algae salad. Place a small mound of it in the center of each sardine. Fold the sardine over on itself to enclose the seaweed salad.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Season the sardines with salt. Place them on an oven sheet that has been lightly oiled.

Bake 2 minutes (raw in the center) or 5 minutes (done).

Open the can of shitakes and heat them in their juice.

Place 3 sardines on each plate. Divide the shitakes between them. Sprinkle with sesame seed and garnish with bean sprouts and cress.

Seaweed and Squid Noodles with Garlicky Ink Sauce
Tallarines de Alga con Tallarines de Calamares al Ajillo de Tinta

The chefs’ recipe for this dish calls for a Porto-Muiño product, a wheat linguine flavored with powdered nori. I didn’t have this specialty pasta, so I improvised, using half whole-wheat spaghetti and half sea spaghetti, the seaweed. I love this seaweed!

Squid ink adds extra flavor to this dish. You can use the ink sacs from fresh squid or, easier, frozen sachets of ink. Spoon the finished garlic-oil-ink sauce over the pasta. Don’t mix it, or it will blacken the noodles.

Serves 4.

1 ounce dried sea spaghetti
10 ounces whole squid, cleaned
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, sliced crosswise
1 small chile
4 packets frozen squid ink
2 tablespoons water
Salt
4 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti or linguine
Chopped chives


Soak the sea spaghetti in salted water for 10 minutes. Cook it in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Cut squid into very thin "noodles."
Cut the body pouch of the squid open lengthwise. With a sharp knife, cut the squid lengthwise into very thin strips (1/8 inch wide). These are the squid “noodles.” Cover and refrigerate until ready to finish the dish.

Place ½ cup oil in a pan. Add the garlic and chile to the oil. Heat until garlic begins to fry and turns golden. Remove the pan from the heat and skim out the garlic and chile.

In a small bowl add the contents of the packets of ink to the water and stir to combine. Add the ink to the pan with the oil.

Cook the whole-wheat spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the squid and sauté just until it turns translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked wheat spaghetti and the reserved sea spaghetti. Toss the spaghetti with the squid. Season with salt.

Carefully reheat the garlic-oil-ink sauce.

Divide the squid and noodles between four plates. Spoon the garlic oil over them. Sprinkle the reserved fried garlic on top. Sprinkle with chopped chives.

Tasting notes from my kitchen: 
I'm sprinkling that powdered seaweed on everything--corn on the cob, scrambled eggs, salad with tuna, green beans. Love it. It's intensely salty, but seems to enhance other flavors.

The only gripe I have about seaweeds is that they are drab brown, green, black in color. Can't really use it "straight" in place of mayo in the potato salad, because it would turn the potatoes grey.

I turned the leftover seaweed tartare into a sort of tapenade, by adding garlic, salt-cured anchovies and capers to the blend. Great as a dip or spread on toasts.

Sea spaghetti is going to be my new favorite no-carb dish! I was getting bored with zucchini noodles anyway. And that fried garlic sauce--just skip the ink--is so delicious.

Gatherers use a mesh bag to collect seaweed. "You just put on a wet suit and goggles and get in there." (Photo by Ben Searl.)  

More recipes with seaweed:
 More information about Porto-Muiños products and on-line ordering at http://portomuinos.com/