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10 things you should know about squid ink pasta


That cool looking black pasta is made from eggs, flour, a little salt and ink from squid butts. You’ve probably seen squid ink pasta on menus at your favorite trattorias, or sold in gourmet food stores. You may have even seen it in an awesome cook book or a cooking blog, but you will never have seen it prepared on the Today Show (hmmm, why is that?). Like me, you have probably thought long and hard about squid ink and making squid ink-infused fresh pasta. Before I attempted to make the pasta, I committed 15 minutes to solid research finding answers to my biggest concerns. These included: “Is this gonna stain my hands?” “What about my kitchen countertops?” and, “What does it taste like?” Well, fear not pasta lovers/enthusiasts/daredevils. The top 10 most important concerns of squid ink pasta are addressed here. Enjoy. 

Squid ink can be purchased at a cool supermarkets, specialty food stores or decent fish mongers. If you still can’t locate it, you should find it online somewhere. I paid $3.00 for a small container of squid ink that was imported from Italy. Italian squid ink, much like their pasta, pizzas and bunga bunga parties, is far better in Italy than the US.

  1. Squid are not the only sea creatures to emit black ink as a defense mechanism. Cuttlefish also produce black ink which is harvested for food coloring and flavoring. Be mindful of this when asking your fishmonger for black ink. They are a hyper-sensitive bunch.
  2. It won’t stain your hands…permanently. I mean, it will dirty your hands, and it will make you look like a coal miner, but it will wash off with soap and water. I’m pretty sure it will.
  3. Ditto for staining your countertops, work spaces or pasta rolling equipment. I made the pasta on my countertops which are a speakeasy-designer-retro-rust-veneered-ultra-weathered-polished concrete and it didn’t leave a residue. I didn’t get any on my clothes so I can’t make any wild claims on whether the ink will stain tighty whities.
  4. Squid ink pasta has a distinctive iodine, briny flavor that pairs well with seafood, ideally squid. This is probably the most surprising aspect of squid ink pasta. I thought it was merely a coloring agent, but it has its own unique flavor profile. It's worth the effort if you love seafood and/or talking about your culinary achievements (see point 8).
  5. Squid ink pasta will take the same time to cook as regular fresh pasta. About 3-6 minutes.
  6. If you prepare your fresh pasta by making half of your pasta with squid ink and the other half sans-squid ink, you could create something that will scare children.
  7. Squid ink pasta is arguably the coolest looking pasta to make, serve, eat, take photos of, discuss on chat roulette and add to your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you tell people about it at any available opportunity. It makes for scintillating conversation and ego boosting. I’m sure Gwyneth Paltrow talks about squid ink pasta all the time.
  8. Squid ink can be used in other regional specialties such as risotto or paella.
  9. Lastly (and I’m reaching here), squid ink can be smudged under your eyes to enhance your Avril Lavigne look.




  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon squid ink
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)


  1. Mound the flour on a clean work surface. Hollow out the center using your fingers making a well in the middle of the flour with steep sides.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl and add the salt, squid ink and olive oil.  Beat it well and add it to the well, gently mixing together with a fork. Gradually start incorporating the flour by pulling in the flour from the sides of the well. As you incorporate more of the flour, the dough will start to take shape.
  3. Discard the fork and using your hands, continue working the dough until it comes together. If the dough is too dry, add a little water; if too wet or sticky, add a little more flour.
  4. Begin kneading the dough and keep kneading until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t skimp on the kneading time. It will pay-off in the end.
  5. Set the dough aside, cover it with plastic, and let it rest for 20 minutes in the fridge. You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but allow it to return to room temperature before rolling it out.
  6. Divide the pasta dough into 4 even sections. Keep each section covered with plastic wrap or a clean towel while you work with each one. Flour the dough, the pasta roller (or your rolling pin), your hands, and the work surface.
  7. If using a pasta machine: Flatten one of the of the dough pieces between your hands or with a floured rolling pin until it forms a thick oval disk. Dust the disk, the roller, and your hands with additional flour. Flour a baking sheet to hold the rolled out finished pasta.
  8. With the roller on the widest setting, pass the pasta through the machine a few times until it is smooth. Fold the dough over into thirds, and continue to pass through a few more times until the pasta is smooth again. Begin adjusting the pasta machine settings to become thinner, passing the dough through a few times at each setting.
  9. If rolling the pasta by hand: Flatten a dough piece into a thick oval disk with your hands. Flour a baking sheet for the rolled out finished pasta. Place the oval dough disk on a floured work surface, and sprinkle with additional flour. Begin rolling out the dough with a floured rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards, constantly moving the dough and lifting it to make sure it's not sticking.

 Recipe courtesy of Kelsey’s Essentials



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Reader Comments (34)

Nice pictures, and very informative!

Can you use squid ink from the ink sacs of fresh squid?
Whenever I clean squids, I notice their sacs of ink, and I wonder if its safe to use for making squid ink pasta, or do I have to buy a processed one?

April 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPing

@Ping - Good question and thanks for the compliment! If I had spent a few more minutes researching the squid ink blogs, I could answer this question with considerable authority. However, I can only say this: the squid ink that I purchased is thicker and far more concentrated than the ink sacs I could harvest from fresh squid. I would suggest you stick with the commercially harvested and packaged ink. But I do see a business opportunity for you in the "organic, sea-to-table, locavore squid-ink" market. Have at it Ping!

April 19, 2011 | Registered Commentermykitchenmoovement

I love your pictures! I'm not sure I would go to the trouble of making this pasta, but it looks delicious.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMargret

I just discovered your blog. I love the pictures and thoughtful musings. Keep at it.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertamarad

I love this, as I am making squid ink pasta for the first time this weekend. WIth the recipe how many does this serve. Also any suggestions on drying pasta?

July 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

@Sarah - I hope I'm not too late, but my guesstimation is that this serves four, maybe five, and possibly six. It really depends on how thinly you roll your pasta and how big the bellies are of your friends or family. I'm pretty sure appetite has something to do with it, so let's say a healthy four to five people. As for dried pasta, I was going to ask you the same question! But seriously, I don't have an answer. And even more seriously, do you?

July 28, 2011 | Registered Commentermykitchenmoovement

yay to bunga bunga! great post!

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterclay

Do you dummies even consider the toll the slaughter of these fantastic sea animals take. You blind deaf and dumb pasta enthusiasts.. You ugly fat human slime balls...How would you like your fat asses ripped apart to make sausages or hot dogs.DUMMIES, GOOD FOR NOTHING, WITHOUT VIRTUES OR IMAGINATION OR CRITICAL ANALYSIS, EVERYWHERE...

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDUMMIES EVERYWHERE

Nice article, made some last night and was quite tasty.
For drying pasta, I use a dehydrator that we bought from Cabela's. Set it a wee bit above room temp and it works quite well.

Dummies Everywhere... yup, think I just read a post from one of them...

January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Dear Dummies Everywhere, would you rather us non-vegans/non-vegetarians be wastefull and not use/consume every part of the fauna/flora we consume?

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Thanks for the share,It's my mother's favorite.And good thing I learn some tips here so that I know what to do.I want to surprise her and cook her favorite food.Hopefully she will love and satisfy with the taste.

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkitchens cheltenham

Cooking with fresh pasta is slightly different from cooking with dry pasta. Remove the pasta from the water with tongs (as opposed to draining it, as a little more water clinging to the pasta will benefit the taste and texture) and place in a skillet where your warm sauce is waiting, then toss and serve immediately. Make sure your guests are ready to eat and are sitting at the table when you throw the pasta in the pot – fresh pasta waits for no one!

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpet food

Just used this dough receipe to make rav's. I filled them with sauteed portabellos, fresh mozzarella and sauteed onions. Put a dash of grated cheese on them when they were done and I'll tell you they were fantastic. Love the dough receipe!!!!

June 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMICHAEL S.

We traveled thru Venice and the Adriatic this summer and were craving the wonderful squid in dishes... YOUR recipe is fantastic! I used squid ink from Caviar Line - purchased on Amazon. 2 of the small packets flavored and colored the pasta perfectly. We topped it with a garlic, shrimp and truffle oil sauce. Such decidance!

July 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Do you have the recipe for the calamari and squid ink pasta? it looks so tasty!


July 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlyssa

Hahaha! I love your humor! And your website! My go-to from now on, Thanks!

July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

i discovered black pasta while in lowell, ma a few years ago. im not an adventurous cook but it looked interesting. not only do i love it but my grandson who is now 8 loves it too. he woofs it down without any sauce. our favorite fish to have with it? salmon of course. i dont make it from scratch. i buy it in a bag when i can find it. heres my question, which company makes the best black pasta?

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdeborah

There seem to be only nine "things you should know about squid ink pasta." And only a few small sections of those nine "tips" seem to help or even make sense.
Regarding the first tip, I will venture to say that everybody who wants to make squid ink pasta would ask the fishmonger for squid ink, not "black ink." Doing this eliminates your squid/cuttlefish problem. And I'm going to ignore your heartless attack on fishmongers.
Your second tip starts off strong, but ends with an unsure "I'm pretty sure it will." Shouldn't you be sure since you had to wash the ink off your own hands? Did you even make squid ink pasta? At this point as a reader, I begin to question the validity of all your claims.
Part of the third tip, "I can't make any wild claims whether the ink will stain tighty whities" further detracts from the post's credibility and seriousness. Whether squid ink stains clothes seems pretty basic knowledge that one should find out before writing an article on it. And I get that underpants are funny, but aren't we past that? Is it worth it to twist logic and insinuate that people are going be preparing squid ink pasta while almost completely naked just to slip in an underwear joke? From my own experience, I've found that the answer is always no.
Since #'s 4 and 5 look good, I'll move to 6. Mixing ink pasta with regular pasta, you say, creates something that "scares children." Does this mean that the two pastas really don't go together in terms of flavor or that their contrasting colors may deter some picky young eaters? If the former, you should explain this so a person without kids doesn't ignore your advice on the grounds that "I ain't a child, I ain't scurred!" and end up contaminating their labor-intensive dish with regular pasta. If the latter, I am afraid your tendency to sacrifice logic in the unsuccessful pursuit of humor has again gotten the better of you. If scaring children is a big concern, I think black pasta itself, more than the mixing of it with regular pasta, is what should be avoided.
As if offending all fishmongers was not enough, you use tip # 7 to take a shot at Gwyneth Paltrow, effectively alienating all GP fans in your audience.
Tip 8 is fun trivia, but by my standards, not something I "should know" if I just want to make squid ink PASTA.
Finally, for tip # 9, you acknowledge that you're "reaching." However, all readers can see that the last four tips have been "reaches" to say the least.
I realize my comment so far may come off as mean and focusing only on the negatives. So I want to say that I did learn a little something about squid ink from this article, and the recipe looks good. I point out the problems only to help you improve as a writer so you can make your next article the best one yet. I know I find it helpful when others do the same for me.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

@Jack - I really appreciate the time you have invested in critiquing this post, point by point. I mean, I REALLY appreciate your valuable guidance on what is considered funny and how not to alienate GP fans. And thanks for making me a better writer. I wish I could give you something in return. Oh wait, I's a haiku. Thanks, Jack.

On a grey winter's mourn,
I see the light through a dusty fountain
and when a spider sees me cry,
I breath and sigh, but mostly I lie
Dribble, drip, and tap, tap, tap,
This is the sound of English rain
on my freckled skin.

October 18, 2012 | Registered Commentermykitchenmoovement

Wow, a calm response to my unprovoked meanness! That is rare in this online world, where there are no consequences for anything people say. Excellent haiku too! Although there's still the possibility that your comment is dripping with well-hidden sarcasm and the haiku is secretly making fun of me... If that's the case, I would just like to say, well done.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

When in Winnipeg airport the 4-Seasons restaraunt has a squid ink pasta sea food dish that is out of this world in flavour!!!!!!! Can anyone give a recipe like this, especially that fantastic chef at the W 4-Seasons. I would love to try it out.

October 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWayne King

I like your style, Moo!

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterComma Door

I will never eat squid! Not because I think its disgusting(its probably not) but because squid are awesome!

April 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbjhjhg

I'm maybe reaching here, but the article clearly says top 10 and I only count 9 items listed, and the 9th hardly even counts...

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterewe

There are a LOT of douchebags commenting on this. Get a freaking LIFE!

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterillnevertell

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