Night of the Cephalopods

We missed our Tuesday sushi night. But the Schneiders were hungry and still wanted to eat. So we switched over to Wednesday, and at Monica’s suggestion, changed the menu to Greek.

IMG_5425

I was pleased, as I’d been craving Greek food and had even purchased stuff to make a Greek dinner. Earlier that week Don had even accidentally smashed a plate at our house — all signs were pointing toward Greece.

Monica, she of Irish/Dominican heritage, knows her way around an octopus prepared Greek-style. So I was excited to hear that would be on the menu. My pal Ernie was going to contribute a leg of lamb which he’d cut into cubes, skewered and marinated to throw on the grill. Because I like Greek dishes with the most complicated names possible, I decided to make macaronia me loukanika ke tiri and kolokithokeftedes — or, in plain English, pasta with sausage and blue cheese, and zucchini fritters. I had some Cypriot grilling cheese I would cook and serve with chopped oregano and olive oil, and also picked up a bottle of ouzo.

Monica's octopus marinating, and...

Monica’s octopus marinating, and…

Cooked

Cooked

A few days before, I’d picked up a large package of squid tubes and tentacles to put in a large pot of Provençal fish soup I was making for my father. I used mostly the tubes for the soup, and had saved the tentacles — my favorite part — for something else. It seemed to me a nice contribution to the cephalopod theme to do something with them — so I dusted them and some strips of zucchini blossom with rice flour and fried them in olive oil. I kept the presentation simple, squeezing a bit of lemon over them and a sprinkle of sea salt.

I guess they could just as easily been from any part of the Mediterranean the way I cooked them — an Italian cook might’ve been proud to call them calamari. But in the context of Greek meal, my mouth cool with iced ouzo and the scent of oregano infusing the air, they were decidedly of Greece.

My squid

My squid

I could give you the squid recipe, although that seems like cheating since it was so darned easy. (Dust some squid with a mixture of flour and corn starch, fry in some hot olive oil, drain, squeeze some lemon and sprinkle some salt… There you go.) So I decided instead to share the macaronia me loukanika ke tiri recipe — hard to say, easy to make!

Get some ouzo, cook up with the cephalopods of your choice, smash a plate or two and ring summer out on a Greek note! Enjoy…

*    *    *

Greek pasta with sausage and blue cheese
(Macaronia me loukanika ke tiri)
serves 4

1 lb. penne
1 mild sausage, Greek, Italian or otherwise
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, slivered
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Remove sausage from casing. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add onions. Then add sausage and cook, pressing with a wooden spoon to break apart as it cooks, for about 5 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Remove from heat.

Heat a large pot of water to a boil, add a tsp. of salt and your pasta. Cook pasta until al dente, about 8 – 10 minutes.

While pasta is cooking, finish your sauce. Add wine, blue cheese, cream and oregano to pan with sausage, and return to medium-high heat. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Drain pasta and then toss in with sauce. Adjust seasoning and serve, sprinkled with crushed red pepper if you’d like.

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