Squid ink pasta is popular throughout Italy and one of our favourite dishes of this variety involves spaghetti in a squid ink sauce. Known in Italian as Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia, this delicacy is often enjoyed in coastal towns stretching all the way from Sicilia, in the far south, to Veneto in the north east. The use of squid ink - or often cuttlefish ink - in Italian cuisine was first developed in the homes of fishermen and their families to ensure that none of their catch went to waste. Now inky pasta sauces - and even pasta dough which incorporates squid ink - have become a luxury served in some of the finest seafood restaurants in the country.
The dark black squid ink, very dramatic in its appearance, has a fresh, clean flavour with briny undertones; perfect for adding body to your pasta dish. It is also rich in nutrients, packed with iron and antioxidants, and many claim that it has positive immune-boosting effects, making it an ideal ingredient to experiment with in your winter cooking.
What is squid ink?
Almost all cephalopods - octopuses, squids and cuttlefish - release ink when they are threatened or under attack. The cloud created when the ink is released provides a perfect escape route, leaving the hungry predator in a state of confusion.
What does squid ink taste like?
Squid ink has a clean, briny flavour, echoing the seas from which it comes.
How to make our squid ink pasta
Prep Time: 40 minutes (excluding pasta)
Calories per serving: 557 kcal
- 400g fresh spaghetti (see our fresh pasta recipe)
- 600g squid, cleaned and sliced into thin strips
- 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, whole
- 100ml dry white wine
- 4tbsp tomato passata or tomato paste
- 8g squid ink
- 1 lemon, zested
- Sea salt to taste
- Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan and add the garlic
- After 2 minutes remove the garlic and add the squid to the pan. Sauté for 2 minutes until the squid appears opaque
- Pour in the wine and allow it to evaporate by half before adding the tomato passata (or paste)
- Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt generously and cook the spaghetti until al dente
- As the pasta cooks, dissolve the squid ink in 2 tbsp of warm water and add this to the sauce. Stir through so that the colour is even
- Drain the pasta and add to the pan containing the sauce, toss until all of the pasta is evenly coated
- Serve your dish with a generous portion of freshly grated lemon zest.