This bowl of pasta is chock-full of tender calamari.
That much, you can see.
But did you know there is also one serving of vegetables hidden within that is not visible?
Yes, there is corn, carrot and squash — a half cup’s worth — incorporated into each 4 ounces of the dried spaghetti noodles.
Golden Grain has launched a new line of pasta, Hidden Veggie, that comes in spaghetti, thin spaghetti, small penne and twisted elbows. The pasta cooks up just like any other dried pasta. It also looks and tastes the same as any other. In other words, your spaghetti isn’t going to all of a sudden taste like Bug Bunny’s favorite snack.
What you get, though, is 150mg of potassium per 2-ounce serving compared to the company’s regular spaghetti that contains none. The Hidden Veggie spaghetti also weighs in at 200 calories per 2-ounce serving, 10 calories fewer than the company’s regular spaghetti. The total fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, dietary fiber and protein amounts are the same with both, though the Hidden Veggie has 5mg of sodium, compared to 0mg for the company’s regular dried pasta.
If you’re worried about your family getting enough potassium, Hidden Veggie pasta is one way to up that nutrient quotient. Each 12-ounce box is about $1.99 and available at Safeway stores.
I used the Hidden Veggie spaghetti in this recipe for “Linguini with Calamari Sauce,” swapping out the slightly wider, flatter noodles called for originally. The recipe is from “Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book” (Welden Owen) by food journalist Julia Della Croce, of which I received a review copy when it was first published three years ago. What’s great about this book is that it truly spans the world of pasta, including recipes not only for making fresh Italian pasta and dishes with dried noodles, but also for making Asian noodles and dumplings. Find recipes for everything from “Fresh Herb Pappardelle with Veal and Lemon” to “Pork and Cabbage Gyoza.”
The calamari pasta sauce cooks up quickly, in only about twice the time it takes to cook the dried spaghetti. Shallots, garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes are sweated gently in olive oil, before adding tomato paste, red wine and bottled clam juice. The calamari is added in for the final five minutes of cooking. I used calamari bodies, already cleaned and scored, purchased from my local Japanese market to make the process even easier.
The tangle of noodles absorbs the briny sauce that’s a little sweet from the tomato paste and a little spicy from the pepper flakes. The tender calamari add just enough chew.
It’s a dish that’s a classic at Italian restaurants. Try your hand at it to realize just how easy it is to make at home, too.
CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win practically a year’s worth of Golden Grain Hidden Veggie pasta — 24 coupons, each good for one free package of the new pasta varieties. Hidden Veggie pasta has rolled out in these markets: San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Oahu, Seattle and Portland, Ore. So, entries should be limited to those folks who live in those markets or have friends in those regions you want to give the winnings to. Entries will be accepted through midnight PST March 23. Winner will be announced March 25.
How to win?
If a fairy with a magic wand could make it so, what else would you want a year’s worth of? And why? Best answer wins the pasta.
Here’s my own answer:
“Spa visits. Ah, to be one of those leisurely ladies who lunch and spa all the time. I’d give my kingdom — as meager as it is — for that. As it is, I’m lucky if I can treat myself to one pampering massage a year. How I’d long to have that more regularly, to have kinks worked out of sore muscles, to have tension soothed away, to breathe in the fragrance of lavender again and again. Ahh, just thinking about it starts to relax me — but not nearly enough!”
Spaghetti with Calamari Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 to 3/4 cup tomato paste (the smaller amount makes for a thinner sauce more readily absorbed by the pasta; the larger measure makes for a thicker sauce)
Fine sea salt
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 pound cleaned small squid, cut into rings and tentacles (if cleaning the squid yourself, purchase an extra 1/4 pound to account for waste)
Kosher salt for cooking pasta
12-ounces to 1 pound spaghetti or linguini
2 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a frying pan large enough to accommodate the pasta later, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add shallots, garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until shallots and garlic are softened but not colored, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir for about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and the wine and simmer until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add clam juice and continue to simmer over medium-low heat until thickened and aromatic, about 20 minutes.
Add squid and cook gently until tender, no more than 5 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thin after cooking the squid, remove squid with slotted spoon to a bowl. Cook sauce, always over gentle heat, until it once again thickens, then return the squid to the pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
In a large pot, bring 5 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Check the package directions for cooking time, then add 2 tablespoons kosher salt and the past to the boiling water, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is 1 minute shy of being al dente.
Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta, add to sauce in the pan, and place pan over low heat. Add parsley and toss pasta and sauce together for about 1 minute. Some of the sauce will be absorbed by the pasta, but plenty will remain, keeping the pasta moist. If you do find your pasta is getting a little dry, add a drizzle of the reserved pasta cooking water to the pan and stir well. Transfer pasta to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl or individual shallow bowls and serve right away.
Adapted from “Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book” by Julia Della Croce
More Seafood Pasta Dishes: Drunken Clam Linguini