What’s Up, Hungry People!
You know that game we all play once in a while, “What’s in my fridge door?” It’s that fun little scavenger hunt where you pull out the half-empty jars of mustard, that lonely cucumber, and the ingredients you bought for that one recipe you never made again.
And why do we do this? To save our fridge from becoming a culinary black hole and our wallets from weeping, that’s why.
It’s like my own budget-friendly version of “Chopped,” where the mystery basket is my refrigerator, and the prize is saving a few bucks.
Six-Monthly Freezer Dive
Every half a year or so, my freezer gets a clean-out that would make Marie Kondo proud. This go-around, I rescued some calamari that was hiding out since the squid tempura night. And why was it just lounging in there? Because like a forgotten toy, it didn’t sparkle enough for me to remember it until now. And with the “30 minutes or less” challenge on my mind, it was time for the calamari to step back into the spotlight.
For the “calamari surprise,” I was a culinary MacGyver, using what I could find to whip up something quick and delightful (whoops, strike that last word—it’s not in our vocabulary list). This dish became a symphony of textures and tastes, with creamy, zesty sauce cascading over tender angel hair pasta, the sweet crunch of red onions, the slight char of red peppers, and the star of the show, golden-fried calamari. It was a race against the clock, and yes, we managed to beat the buzzer in 20 minutes—take that, reality cooking shows!
Here’s What You Need
- Angel Hair Pasta: A fine, quick-cooking pasta perfect for light sauces.
- Calamari Rings & Tentacles: Adds a seafood flavor and chewy texture.
- Ice Water: Chills batter for a crispier tempura fry.
- Tempura Batter Mix: Coats calamari for a light, crisp texture when fried.
- Red Onion: Brings a sharp, slightly sweet flavor to the dish.
- Red Bell Pepper: Adds sweetness and a pop of color.
- Garlic: Provides a pungent kick that deepens the savory notes.
- Parmesan Cheese: Introduces a salty, nutty flavor to the pasta.
- Fresh Parsley: Offers a fresh, herbaceous touch.
- Mayonnaise: Creates a creamy base for the sauce.
- Lemon Juice: Brightens the dish with citrus notes.
- Butter: Sautéing fat that adds richness.
- Vegetable Oil: Used for deep-frying to a perfect golden crisp.
- Salt & Pepper: Seasonings that enhance overall flavor.
Starting with the Sauce
Alright, Hungry People, grab a small bowl and let’s kick things off with our sauce. Mix up that mayonnaise with a nice squeeze of lemon juice. Chuck in the parsley—don’t be shy, give it a good mix. Once it looks like a dressing you’d put on a fancy salad, set it aside. This little bowl of zest is going to tie our whole pasta dish together.
Fry Time for Calamari
Next, we’ve got to get our calamari ready for its hot oil bath. But before that, heat up your oil in a large pan to 350°F—you want it hot, but not smoke-alarm-setting-off hot. Now, get that tempura batter all smooth according to the box’s wisdom, and then slice the calamari into ring-shaped swim floaties, keeping those tentacles looking like, well, tentacles. Dip them into the batter, and then let them sizzle in the oil for just about 2 to 3 minutes, or until they puff up and turn golden like a beach tan. Scoop them out and let them rest on a paper towel—nobody likes greasy squid.
Veggies and Pasta Unite
While the calamari’s doing its thing, melt some butter in a skillet and toss in the onions and red peppers like you’re the ringmaster of a veggie circus. Sauté them until they’re soft and sweet. It’s time for the pasta to plunge into boiling water. Angel hair pasta is quick—4-5 minutes and it’s ready for the limelight.
Bringing it All Together
Now, don’t forget about that cup of pasta water before you drain it—we need that starchy spa water for our sauce. Add the drained angel hair to the skillet with the veggie duo, splash in the reserved water, and douse it all with that lemony mayo concoction. Give it a good twirl like you’re DJing a pasta party until every strand is saucy.
Let’s finish this with a flourish of Parmesan cheese mixed into the noodles. If your lemon’s still got juice, go ahead and give it another squeeze over the top. A little more parsley for color, and why not? It’s like confetti on a pasta parade. Serve it up with a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan
Here’s the real tea: more dishes were used in the making of this dish than my live-in dishwasher—ahem, I mean my boyfriend—might have liked. But hey, that’s the price of admission for kitchen experiments that don’t make our stomachs grumble. A few extra minutes of cleaning up is a small price to pay for the delicious victory we scored, right? Plus, he gets to share in the fruits of my labor, so I’d say it’s a fair trade-off.
Sometimes, the best culinary creations come from a playful experiment with what’s hiding behind your ketchup and soy sauce. Today’s foray into the “use it or lose it” approach of cooking gave us calamari pasta – and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. It’s quick, it’s easy, and let’s be honest, it makes you feel like a genius when you transform random ingredients into a meal that can make your taste buds do the happy dance.
If my dishwasher, I mean boyfriend, has any complaints about the clean-up, I’ll just remind him that this is the price of my brilliance. Next time your fridge contents look bleak, remember that a little imagination can lead to your next favorite pasta dish. And hey, isn’t solving the mystery of the forgotten fridge contents half the fun of cooking?
- 16 oz angel hair pasta
- 8 oz calamari rings & bottoms
- 1 cup + 1 cup ice water
- 1 cup tempura batter mix
- ½ cup red onion sliced
- ½ cup red bell pepper sliced
- 3 tablespoons garlic minced
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- 4 tablespoons fresh parsley + more for topping
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
- salt & pepper to taste
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, half of the lemon juice, and 4 tablespoons of parsley in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan until it reaches 350°F.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- Prepare the tempura batter as per the box instructions, using 1 cup of ice water. Slice the calamari into rings and dip them, along with the tentacles, into the tempura batter.
- Fry the calamari in the preheated oil for 2-3 minutes or until the batter is puffed and golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, red peppers, and minced garlic, sautéing until softened.
- Cook the angel hair pasta in the boiling water for 4-5 minutes or according to package instructions for al dente.
- Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the pasta water.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the peppers, onions, and garlic. Pour in the reserved pasta water and the prepared mayonnaise/lemon sauce. Stir until the noodles are evenly coated.
- Mix in the shredded Parmesan cheese, and season with additional lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with additional parsley. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and enjoy!