Treat yourself to a ghostly — and grown-up — Halloween feast
Squid ink pasta has a shadowy color that is perfect for Halloween. Pair with shellfish and a bottle of vino turned poisonous with the help of printable wine bottle labels. | Photo by Melissa Elsmo
Ghoulish Squid Ink Pasta and Shellfish
Squid Ink pasta can be found at finer markets, online and at Target under the Archer Farms label. Serves 4.
½ pound squid ink spaghetti
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot sliced into rings
1 garlic clove minced
½ cup port wine
6 littleneck clams, scrubbed
6 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
6 Tablespoons salted butter
1 Tablespoon fresh sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) red pepper flakes
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until al dente.
Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a medium pot and add the shallot and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant and shallot begins to soften. Carefully add the port wine and bring to a boil. Add the clams to the pot. Cover and allow clams to steam for 3 minutes. Add the mussels and steam for about 2 minutes until all the shellfish have opened; discard any shellfish that don’t open.
While the shellfish steams, melt the butter and add the sage and red pepper flakes. Cook until butter browns and sage is crispy. Drain the pasta and portion into four bowls. Top with the shellfish and drizzle with the infused brown butter. Adjust seasoning and serve.
Ghostly Burrata with Roasted Carrots and Black Olives
Look for burrata cheese near the fresh mozzarella at finer grocery stores like Whole Foods or Italian specialty markets like Caputo’s. Ras el Hanout is a savory sweet north African spice blend containing cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, chilies, turmeric, nutmeg and cumin.
3 carrots, peeled and sliced 1-inch thick on the bias
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon honey
1 ball of fresh burrata cheese
1/2 cup assorted pitted black olives, quartered
1/8 cup Sicilian green olives, pitted and quartered
Kosher salt and crostini
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Toss the carrots with the olive oil, Ras el Hanout, salt and pepper. Turn the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast the carrots for 20-25 minutes or until tender and browning in spots. Drizzle the hot carrots with the honey and allow them to cool to room temperature.
Place half of the cooled carrots onto a serving platter and carefully top with the burrata orb.
Sprinkle the cheese with the remaining carrots and the olives. Season with salt and serve with crostini.
Instruct guests to spread the burrata on the crostini and top with the olives and carrots.
Updated: November 8, 2012 9:12AM
In the frenzy of sourcing costumes, school snacks and trick-or-treat supplies for the little goblins in our lives, the grown-up side of Halloween can get a lost in the murky mist.
Dabbling on the dark side of holidays, however, isn’t something that should be solely reserved for candy-craving children. Gathering a coven of comrades for a mysterious, memorable and mature Halloween feast will make a hair-raising holiday devilishly delicious.
Rather than reach into the candy bowl for a pre-dinner treat, give your holiday an indulgent start by serving dry sparkling wine in flutes rimmed with black sugar or cover conventional wine labels with readily available printables. I found several haunting bottle labels on Ellinee Journal (www.ellinee.com) that allow creative hosts to turn a typical Cabernet into servings of fresh blood, unfiltered poison or spider venom. An eerie cocktail embraces the elegant side of All Hallows Eve and sets the ideal tone for a delectably creepy meal.
This year, my menu offers much needed quick cook convenience considering Halloween falls on a hectic mid-week Wednesday. Ghostly Burrata cheese, quick roasted carrots and raven-hued olives team up to turn predictable crostini into a textural revelation. Playing on the sensory side of Halloween, pearly white orbs of liquid-centered Burrata cheese practically beg to appear as part a spectral menu. Burrata, the lesser known cousin of fresh mozzarella, has a rich dairy forward flavor and a hollow center filled with cream and rags of fresh mozzarella cheese. Holiday diners will appreciate how the orange and black garnishes give a traditional twist to a unique dish without any candy corn convention.
Pairing pallid burrata crostini with an entrée portion of disturbingly dark squid ink pasta offers guests a coveted visual contrast on the table. Squid ink pasta is prized for its delicate flavor and unexpected color. Topping the black pasta with steamed clams and mussels yields a dish that looks like it could bite back before diners dig in, but savory autumnal butter spiked with chilies and sage adds a seasonal validity to an otherwise whimsical dish.
So light some candles and throw on a wicked looking cloak; its time to conjure up a mysterious meal that elegantly celebrates the savory side of a cloyingly sweet holiday. After all, fun size candy parts are the perfect finish to any meal!