I started my new job yesterday. While having so much to do and so little knowledge of how to do it is intimidating (it will be a small miracle if I ever master our phone system), I am really excited about the work and the people.
I am not, however, stoked about the location. After 14 years of working in the heart of Greenwich Village, I find myself on 43rd Street and Avenue of the Americas. Yesterday’s lunch was a couple of so-so vegetarian empanadas from a cart, consumed while rushing in between meetings. Today I braved the touristic hordes in Times Square on the hunt for a healthy and delicious lunch. The place I had sussed out online turned out to be tiny and not all that. I am mystified by the lack of even a basic grocery store in the area (and really, really need to remember to bring almonds and dried fruit from home).
It seems I will be packing my lunch with far greater frequency than I have in the past. This is not a bad thing, but it will take a certain amount of forethought, particularly given that I am not much of a morning person.
I left work late but determined to cook enough of something to get me through Friday. The lovely and sustainably-minded Mermaid’s Garden was about to close up shop by the time I emerged from the subway. I grabbed a pound of their succulent Carolina White Shrimp to stash in the freezer for a future food emergency and scanned the counter for something to pair with the insane quantity of tomatoes I picked up from my CSA last night.
The squid from Rhode Island was only $5 a pound. Squid is generally economical, but this seemed too good to be true. Turns out it was not cleaned. The nice folks behind the counter assured me to that it wasn’t hard–separate the cap from the rest, slice off the tentacles just below the eyes, remove the plasticky hard thing (there’s probably a name for it) and, if you feel like it, peel off the skin. They assured me I could find YouTube videos if I got stuck and sent me on my way with a lemon (a charming touch).
I am here to report that cleaning squid is, in fact, just as easy as promised–which is a good thing since there was no way I was going to try to stream a tutorial with my hands covered in ink and guts. Less than an hour after walking in my front door, I was sitting down to this delicious dish while my lunch for the rest of the week cooled on the counter.
Whole Wheat Penne with Squid, Tomato & Feta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 12 ounces cleaned and sliced squid (about 1 pound pre-cleaning)
- 3 large, very ripe tomatoes (or 1 15-ounce can)
- 1/4 cup white wine (or ouzo if you happen to have it)
- 8 ounces dried whole wheat pasta
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled
- fresh herbs (if you got ’em)
- salt and pepper
- Place a pot of generously salted water over high heat. Bring a large skillet up to medium heat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and browned around the edges. Add the green pepper and continue cooking and stirring until softened. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook stirring continuously for another minute or so until it smells amazing. Once your pot of water comes to a boil, add the pasta.
- Slide the peppers and onions to the edge of your skillet and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil followed by the squid. Cook stirring constantly for a minute or two until the flesh is just opaque. Turn the heat all the way up and add the tomatoes, wine and a good measure of salt and pepper. When your pasta is still a couple of minutes from being done, use a slotted spoon to transfer it directly into the squid and tomatoes to finish cooking. Remove from the heat and stir in the feta, allowing it to melt a bit and thicken your sauce. If you have some fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, basil or mint), now would be a great time to add those as well.