The beginnings of this charming pasta shape emerge from the southern region of Campania, in the architecturally gifted city of Naples, Italy’s third largest metropolitan area.
Made using durum wheat semolina flour, calamarata humorously resembles calamari squid rings, this pasta shape consists of short and thick rings. As an extruded pasta, calamarata cannot be made by hand and is therefore found as a dried pasta on the supermarket shelves alongside its smaller version named calamaretti, although both varieties are rare outside of the Italian peninsula. The shape of calamarata is unmistakably reminiscent of the diametrically longer paccheri pasta, which also originates from the sunny Campania region, so much so it can be found to be called mezzi paccheri, meaning ‘half paccheri’ in the some of the local ristoranti lining the coast of the Neapolitan area.
What does it go well with?
Due to its shape, calamarata pasta isn’t particularly efficient at adhering sauces to its surface, but nevertheless remains popular along the other coastal regions lining the inky-blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea such as Calabria and Sicily. This falls to the fact that this pasta shape pairs especially well with seafood dishes such as swordfish ragù or the eponymously named ‘La Calamarata’. This latter recipe heroes’ famous southern ingredients such as: pomodorino Vesuviano; a tomato variety grown in rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius, iconic Calabrian pepperoncino chilli peppers and of course, freshly caught squid from the neighbouring sea. Calamarata pasta can also be seen dyed with squid ink, giving it a light briny taste as well as an impressive dark hue, evocative of the depths of the ocean.
'La Calamarata' Recipe
This deliciously simple & summery recipe will transport anyone craving a coastal Italian getaway during these increasingly chilly autumn days! With fewer components to a recipe, it’s well worth getting high quality ingredients after which you can sit back and let the flavours do the talking. Additionally, if you wish to make this dish ahead of time, you can reheat it al cartoccio, that is, wrapped in baking parchment or foil in the oven later in the evening.
Prep time: 40 mins
Calories per serving: 432kcal
- 400g calamarata pasta (normal, squid ink dyed or a mix)
- 2-3 fresh squid (around 450g)
- 500g cherry/vine tomatoes, cut along the equator (San Marzano or other southern variety)
- 2 garlic gloves, crushed
- 230ml dry white wine
- 1 Pepperoncino (red chilli pepper) thinly chopped (you can add or subtract, dependant on how spicy you like it)
- 1 bunch Parsley, roughly chopped
- 3-4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- Firstly, clean the squid by rinsing under cold, running water. Pull the head & tentacles from the body and cut the tentacles from the head, keep these for your dish. Remove the cartilage (plastic-looking shard) and anything else remaining in the main body of the squid. Once that’s done remove the outer, purple-coloured skin of the squid under running water.
- Once cleaned cut the body into calamari rings to a similar thickness of the pasta and set aside with the tentacles.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil (adding in the salt after it first comes to boil and then bringing to boil again).
- In a large pan, on a medium heat, fry together the garlic cloves and chopped pepperoncino in the olive oil for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the calamari rings with a pinch of salt and fry until the calamari turns pale white.
- Add in your wine and cook off the alcohol. If you waft the vapours towards you as it simmers, you will be able to smell when the alcohol is cooked off.
- Once all the alcohol has evaporated, add in the tomatoes and reduce the heat, simmering for around 10-15 minutes until slightly reduced. Next, remove the garlic cloves.
- During this time, add in your calamarata pasta to the salted boiling water & cook according to the packet instructions. Remember to check a good 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time to ensure it’s perfectly al dente.
- Reserve a cupful of pasta-water before draining the pasta. Once drained, add to the sauce with the chopped parsley and mix well, adding 2-3 tablespoons of pasta-water as needed.
- Serve immediately & enjoy this taste of Campania, buon appetito!
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