Black Friday Penne alla Vodka

We are spending Thanksgiving at home this year.  Like a lot of our friends, we are doing a lot of cooking and experimenting with new takes on old recipes.

Like most Catholic families, we grew up waiting to eat leftover turkey until the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Friday was fish day.  In a way, I like to continue that custom.  Not for traditional reasons, but because we like to have something light the day after.  Also, we crave tastes that depart from the traditional holiday fare.  So, I set out to make a dish for Black Friday – black pasta with squid.

Our friend Antonio made this for us in Naples.  He pointed out that there they don’t use pasta that has been tinted black.  For Neapolitans, it’s the sauce.  It’s a very spicy tomato sauce made with cuttlefish that has its ink sac intact. 

Since cuttlefish is hard to find here, I use fresh squid and add canned squid in its own ink.  This year, I could not find it where I usually shop.  Since this is not the time to be going from store to store, I decided to improvise. 

So here is my recipe for Black Friday Penne alla Vodka made with shrimp and black caviar. 

Like most of what we make, dinner starts in Jim’s herb garden.  This time of year it’s rather depleted, but I did procure some lovely savory and thyme.

For four servings:

1/2 pound of penne (I recommend green/spinach penne, if it’s available.)

24 shrimp

1/4 cup vodka

1 cup minced onion

2 cups chopped Campari tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Thyme and savory

4 tablespoons black caviar, divided

Sauté shrimp and set aside, keeping warm.

Set about 2 tablespoons of minced onion aside. 

Heat the olive oil.  Add the seasonings.  If you don’t have fresh herbs, use about ½ teaspoon of dried – or, of course, to taste.  Marjoram is a good substitute for savory.

Add the tomato and remaining onion in olive oil until the onion is translucent and the tomatoes are soft. 

Meanwhile, cook the penne according to package directions.

Add the vodka to the sauce and cook for a few minutes.  You may want to puree the sauce at this point. 

Add 2 tablespoons of caviar.  Just a note – the caviar will not turn the penne as black as does the squid ink.

Drain the penne and add it to the sauce in the pan.   

Divide the pasta among four plates, top each with six shrimp.  In the center of the shrimp, add a dollop of caviar and some minced onion.

Buon appetito