How Cher got her groove back...(Squid Ink Pasta w/ Caramelized Onion & Corn)

Wow.  Life has been crazy.  This summer has been crazy.  I don't ever recall having such a busy summer.  Between vacation.  Work.  College visits.  Kid's plans.  My plans.  Everything in between.  So many amazing things tucked into a couple of short months. 

I just looked at my blog and realized my only posts for the past month or so were FFwD related.  And my draft backlog was two solid pages of posts-in-waiting.  Whoa.  Time to post or purge...

Is it just me????

Last week, I complained about mentioned my difficulties with eggplant and how it seemed to be getting the best of me. And how I thought my kitchen was mad at me, because I was out of state hanging with this guy (my brother & sister-in-law's cat).  I hung out with my brother and sister-in-law too... not just their cats.

I abandoned my kitchen for at least a week.  When I came back, things just weren't hanging right.  At all.   I knew it couldn't hold a grudge against me forever...

Because I am such a nerd, one of the highlights of my trip to Cincinnati was a visit to Jungle Jim's - a total food emporium.  More grocery choices than my backwoods self could handle.  I tortured my dear brother with a couple of  hours wandering through the store - I am sure he felt like he was taking his five-year old sister through a candy store.  Or at least a girl on a scavenger hut.  (He's a good sport...)

While "normal" people bring back t-shirt or chotchkies from vacation, I bring back "new to me" food items.  I know, I know -it's a little off-balance.  I am sure at least a couple of you can relate?

One of the items that found it's way back in my luggage was a package of squid ink fettuccine.  Why?  Because. 

My curiosity with squid ink started back when Iron Chef first started showing up on American television (late 90's?).  I don't mean the watered down version that now runs on Food Network - but the real deal.  The Japanese version with the awesome voice overs.  And the really cool ingredients.  Like turtle (which made my "young at the time" daughter cry) and all other sorts of ingredients not commonly known to us State-side.  There was something about the squid ink that just totally confused me.  Why would someone squirt black liquid into their food?  I just didn't get it. 

So, when I saw this package sitting on the shelf at Jungle Jim's, I figured, why not?  It's just pasta.  And pasta is benign, right???  Into the cart it went...

I had no idea what to do with it...  This, of course, never stops me from picking up something.  Fortunately, there was a recipe on the back of the pasta package...for a caramelized onion & corn pasta.  It seemed safe enough; corn is at its peak right now, so why not??? 

The pasta was intended to be the main "star" of the meal; but I was feeling over-the-top.  I needed to show my kitchen who was boss (and I wasn't sure how the pasta would turn out - and I am a firm believer in bet-hedging...well, at least sometimes...).

So I made crab cakes.  (Which were excellent and I wish I could find the recipe that I used because I don't know how I'll ever recreate them...)

AND...since I had so much left over corn (who knew that six ears of corn would produce so many kernels...), I "threw together" Smitten Kitchen's corn, buttermilk & chive popovers as a side. 

My pop-overs didn't get the "poof", but I must say that these are some of the best popovers to come out of my oven.  They were light & porridge-y and oh-so-good.  Deb is a genius.  An absolute genius. 

At the end of the day, the pasta became the star it was meant to be.  The crunch of the fresh sweet corn kernels against the chewiness of the pasta was the perfect textural balance.  The acidity of the lemon and the fresh hit of parsley kept the sweetness of the caramelized onion & corn in check.  The pepper was the hint of spice needed to tie everything together. 

It was leftover worthy - heated up in a frying pan the next day. 

And on that note, I can officially announce that I got my groove back.  Now I just need more time. 

Squid Ink Pasta w/ Caramelized Onion & Corn
Adapted from the back of the "Al Dente" Squid Ink Fettuccine package

1 cup fresh corn kernels (~2 ears of corn)
1 medium sweet onion (I like vidalia), chopped
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped parsley (reserve 1 Tbs for garnish)
2 Tbs chives, finely minced
Zest of one lemon
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Salt, to taste (sorry - salt level is such a personal thing - I probably used ~1 tsp)
1 tsp of crushed Aleppo chili or a 1/2 tsp cayenne

12-16 ounces of dried fettuccine of your preference 

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Once boiling, salt and prepare pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return pasta to pot - toss with 1 Tbs of the butter and 1 Tbs of the olive oil to keep noodles from sticking.  Cover pot.  Set aside. 
While the pasta water is coming to boil. begin preparing onions.  In a large saute pan, heat 2 Tbs of the olive oil & 2 Tbs of the butter over medium-high heat.  When heated, reduce heat to medium and add onions and saute until transparent and just starting to pick up color.  Add the broth, salt & pepper of choice and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Continue cooking for ~5 more minutes until the onions start to caramelize.  Add corn and heat through. 

Once heated, toss onion-corn mixture with pasta - mixing thoroughly.  Just before serving, toss in lemon zest, lemon juice and parsley - using reserved tablespoon of parsley & chives to garnish. 



  1. Welcome back:) Did you taste the difference with the squid ink pasta or was it just the color? Jungle Jims - interesting name for a shop:)

  2. Happy for you and your groove:) Looks delicious and I'm glad you got to caramelize some onions!

  3. Ha, I'm totally with you on soaking up the food culture when visiting other towns. Jungle Jim's sounds like pure heaven and it looks like you got some fun stuff! Your dinner looks absolutely delicious-- you definitely showed your kitchen who's boss! :) Hope you all came through Irene ok and are all safe!

  4. Such a delicious dinner. You definitely got your groove back!

  5. Firstly, I am so impressed that you've kept up with FFWD with your busyness! I just gave up! I'm a coward!
    Secondly, I love the Iron Chef! The one with the voice overs. But it's usually me crying at whatever animal they are killing to cook with!
    And finally, wow! You made a feast!
    Everything looks absolutely amazing!
    Love your ink pasta!!

  6. Hi Cher,
    Found your page trying to find the recipe for Al Dente's Squid ink Pasta with Caramelized Corn! Couldn't find it on their page, so thank you for posting! I love this dish, I make it with whole wheat pasta for myself, I'm not a fan of the Squid ink though my husband is.

  7. @Three-Cookies- there was a subtle flavor on the pasta - but I think it was more about the color.

  8. I know what you mean about more time! I have about twelve posts "in-draft" and I'm baking and cooking more everyday! If I didnt have little Mei to cut in on my time I would probably not be so behind! LOL!


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