Squid ink turns pasta into a black ocean-flavored delicacy. Don't let the color turn you down, it has an incredible flavor! The best sauce is, of course, the same fresh squids and delicious garlicky cherry tomatoes.
Have you ever tried squid ink pasta before? If you've been to Italy or to a good Italian restaurant, you may have.
Italian cuisine was born when poverty was the norm, so many traditional recipes have peasant origins. A famous Italian saying is "we don't throw away anything", especially when it's edible.
We use in our recipes every single part of the cows and pigs and, in this case, of squids too.
Fresh pasta can be made with simply flour and eggs with the addition of squid ink, and the sauce only has 5 ingredients, so it's important you select the best quality ingredients.
- Squids. I absolutely recommend fresh squids. They're much more flavorful and the meat is softer, while frozen squids are often flavorless and chewy. Ask your fishmonger to clean them for you if you prefer to skip that step.
- Tomatoes. I love to use cherry Roma tomatoes for pasta sauces. They're as small as cherry tomatoes but they're less sweet and more flavorful, like Roma tomatoes. You can also use cherry tomatoes or Roma tomatoes as well.
- White Wine. I recommend using a dry white wine when cooking pasta sauce, it complements best the sweetness of tomatoes. If you don't want to use wine, you can skip it but the flavor of the sauce will be weaker (also keep in mind that the alcohol completely evaporates during the cooking).
- Semolina Flour. When making fresh pasta I recommend using both all-purpose flour and semolina flour for the best consistency and flavor. Semolina flour is slightly coarser than all-purpose flour. Look for "Semola Rimacinata" if you can, usually sold specifically to make pasta and bread. If you cannot find semolina flour, you can use only all-purpose flour.
What is Squid Ink
You may know that squids, cuttlefish, and octopuses produce ink as a self-defense mechanism to spray on their enemies when they feel in danger. What you may not know is that this ink is edible.
The squid ink is mainly made of melanin, the pigment that also makes its dark color and also the same thing that gives humans their skin color.
To learn more about it, you can visit this page that provides all the information about squid ink.
What does it taste like?
It may look unappetizing with its pitch-black color, but squid ink is actually tasty. It has a faint taste of squid and seafood flavor. Nothing too strong or too fishy, it's very delicate and elegant. That's why it can be used in many recipes, like risottos, bread, crackers, and of course, pasta.
Either in a pasta sauce or directly in the pasta dough like in this recipe. It will make each bite of pasta much more flavorful.
How to use it
Squid ink is commercially sold in liquid form or dehydrated powder form (see also Amazon links at the bottom of this post), but if you cannot find it in your supermarket, you could also harvest it yourself from fresh squids.
The ink is situated in the head of the squids, between the eyes, so you need to be careful while you cut and clean your squids. Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to harvest squid ink.
The most common uses for squid ink are in pasta dough and risotto. Since it doesn't only give color but also flavor, be careful how you use it: you may think a black bread would be cool, but do you really want a fish-flavored bread? Unless you're going to use it as a garnish for fish, probably not. The same goes if you use it with pasta or risotto, serve it with a fish or seafood sauce.
Since it has a liquid consistency, you can easily implement it in many doughs or sauces. Just mix it first with other wet ingredients before you add the dry ingredients to make sure the color will be uniform. If instead, you use the powder form, mix in with the dry ingredients first.
Compared to the traditional fresh pasta, like tagliatelle, in this case, there is basically only the addition of one ingredient to make: squid ink.
In a large bowl, add the flour, and a pinch of salt, and in the middle add the eggs and the squid ink (1). With a fork, whisk the eggs with the squid ink, then slowly incorporate the flour until you get a sticky dough.
Knead the dough with your hands (I recommend wearing gloves for this step) for about 10 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 15 minutes (2).
Divide the dough into 2 to 4 pieces, take one, dust it with flour and stretch it a few times with a pasta machine or a rolling pin until you get a thin pasta sheet (3). Then cut the sheet into thin ribbons to make the tagliatelle (4) (most pasta machines have a special attachment to cut tagliatelle and tagliolini).
Let the pasta rest on a clean towel until it's time to boil it.
If you enjoy making fresh pasta, check out also this extensive guide with step-by-step videos on how to make 10 different shapes of fresh pasta without a pasta machine.
FAQ & Tips
Yes, you can absolutely freeze raw fresh pasta. Make little nests of the tagliatelle, then place them on a plate lined with baking paper. Place flat in the freezer for about 1 hour, then transfer the frozen pasta to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Toss directly in boiling water without thawing first.
If you don't want to use wine, you can skip it but the flavor of the sauce will be weaker (also keep in mind that the alcohol completely evaporates during the cooking).
I absolutely recommend fresh squids. They're much more flavorful and the meat is softer, while frozen squids are often flavorless and chewy. Ask your fishmonger to clean them for you if you prefer to skip that step.
You can find step-by-step photos, and tips in the post above.
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Squid Ink Pasta with Squids
For the Pasta
- 1 ¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ cup Semolina
- 2 Eggs
- ¾ teaspoon Squid Ink, liquid
- EV Olive Oil
For the Sauce
- 3 Squids, large
- 10 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- 3 Garlic cloves, halved
- ¼ cup White Wine
- Parsley, chopped
Make the Pasta
- In a large bowl, add both flours, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well and make a hole in the center.
- Add the eggs in the center and beat them with a fork, then add the squid ink to the eggs and beat until combined (if you prefer you can do this step in a separate bowl). When the eggs and ink are combined, start slowly adding the flour.
- When the dough it's too stick to mix with a fork, start kneading with your hands and knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until you have a smooth and uniform dough.
- Cover the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Take a large wooden board and sprinkle with flour. Divide the dough in 4 parts and start kneading the first part again and flatten it with your hands.
- Roll it in the pasta machine starting with the wider settings and slowly reducing the thickness. Once it's thin enough, add the spaghetti attachment and pass it through.
- Set the pasta on a clean towel and sprinkle some more flour on top.
Make the Sauce and finish the dish
- Clean the squids and cut them into rings. Drizzle a large pan with olive oil and turn on the heat. When it's hot, add the squids and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the white wine and let it evaporate.
- Add the peeled and halved garlic cloves and the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan. Cook for another 10 minutes, turning down the heat if necessary.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and when the sauce it's almost ready, toss the pasta. Boil the pasta for 2-3 minutes, then add it in the pan with the sauce.
- Add a ladle or two of pasta water to the pan and sautèe for a minute. Add the finely chopped parsley and serve
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.