New Year’s Eve at Pasta a Casa

The holidays were on the quiet side this year, but I loved every minute because I got much quality time with family, especially my son while he is home from college for the break. We spent New Year’s Eve in our typical family tradition- home- just the way we like it. Our traditional meal has 3 core ingredients: seafood, really good steak, excellent Cabernet Sauvignon.  The rest of our meal varies.  This year we purchased local from our favorite fishmonger, Cameron’s Seafood (Rockville, MD). We opted for Maryland crabmeat and spiced shrimp. We also had just returned from our NJ post Christmas trip where we stocked up on all our Italian staples and goodies from Jerry’s Gourmet ( Englewood, NJ) where Spud and I decided we needed caviar to start the New Year.

Our evening started at 6pm with a simple cheese plate, caviar and creme fraiche on toast and steamed spiced shrimp.  We each had our chosen cocktail. Then about 8pm came my favorite part- the first course. Squid Ink pasta is a favorite of ours, and is excellent when topped with crabmeat. Normally, the pasta would have been homemade, but the decision to make this dish was last minute, and even the NJ Italian grocery didn’t carry the squid ink, and it was too late to procure online. Jerry’s did carry a high quality dry squid ink linguini, and it was even on sale, so as I say here at Pasta a Casa, I cheated.

Here is the recipe for the sauce with crab meat for the pasta:

Squid Ink Pasta with Crab Meat

1 lb squid ink linguini ( fresh or good quality dry), cooked al dente, reserve 1 cup of cooking water
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry White wine
1/2-1 cup reserved cooking water
1/2 lb ( about 1 cup) of fresh picked crabmeat ( we prefer from Maryland blue crab) or use as much or little as you like
Salt to taste
More Red pepper flakes to taste if you prefer
Lemon Slice to garnish (optional)

In a large pot, cook pasta in salted water until al dente , reserve about a cup of the pasta water, and drain the rest into a colander. Never rinse the pasta. Set pasta aside and return pot to the burner on medium. Once the pot reheats, add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until garlic is just fragrant, being careful to not burn the garlic. Add the white wine and simmer about a minute. Toss pasta into the sauce until coated and add about a 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water and toss until the pasta looks glossy.  Add more if it still looks dry. Add salt and more pepper flakes to taste. Push the linguini to the side of the pot and add the crab meat to the bottom of the pan and toss to warm it up. Serve the pasta in bowls or small plates and then top with a spoon of crab on each plate.You can garnish with a lemon slice if you prefer.
Once you make this dish, you will learn that you don’t really need to measure any of these ingredients, just pour and add to your own taste and preference. And I promise, I will do a future blog on fresh squid ink pasta and post the recipe and resources. 

We went onto our simple second course which was Filet Mignon and NY Strip steaks seared in cast iron with Sautéed spinach, with some light creme. My sweetheart is the steak master, so I will refrain from steak instructions on Pasta a Casa but here is how I made the spinach: I had the extra creme fraiche from the caviar, but heavy cream will do. 

Sautéed Spinach with Cream( serves 4)

The largest box of fresh baby spinach your store has, or 2 large bags.
1/4 cup salted butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt to taste
1/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large deep skillet and add garlic , cooking until just fragrant, being careful not to burn it.  Add some spinach to fill the pan ( it won’t all fit ) stir until it wilts and you can fit more and salt to taste.  Keep repeating until you have added all the spinach and it is cooked. Just before you are ready to serve, add the cream, just stir in until warm and incorporated. 

We paired our main course with a bottle of 2014 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, and played TV/Movie trivia until it was time to watch the ball drop. Dessert is usually served after, but we were too full this year. 

I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year, and look forward to bringing much more to Pasta a Casa in 2019.

3 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve at Pasta a Casa”

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