Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin, Sage and Browned Butter
Okay, I know. This is one of those weird ones. But it is Halloween, and I was looking for something black and orange (go SF Giants!) to make, and I saw a package of squid ink pasta at The Pasta Shop in Berkeley, and I just had to have it. Have you ever had squid ink pasta? It’s pasta that has been flavored (and naturally colored) with jet black squid ink. Which now that I think about it, doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, unless of course you’ve tried it. In which case you will go to great lengths to obtain and consume it. Squid ink pasta is absolutely delicious. Like, don’t-bother-me, leave-me-alone-while-I-savor-this, wow-this-is-good, delicious. As for the specific taste? The pasta itself is only lightly flavored with the squid ink, so the pasta tastes like pasta, just really good. (How’s that for an explanation?)
This recipe is sort of like a deconstructed classic pumpkin ravioli in sage browned butter sauce, except that the pumpkin is on the outside, and the pasta with the sage browned butter sauce is on the inside. To eat it, you can take a small scoop of pumpkin from the inside of the pumpkin and swirl it with a little pasta.
Do you like squid ink pasta? What’s your favorite preparation? Please let us know in the comments. I have more that I haven’t yet cooked, so I’m looking for ideas, thanks!
Squid ink pasta typically comes as either spaghetti or linguine; either will work fine. We dust the insides of the pumpkin with a little sugar, just to accentuate the sweetness of the pumpkin. You can use either brown or white sugar, or skip it all together.
- 4 small sugar pumpkins, each about 1 pound to 1 1/2 pound
- 2 to 4 teaspoons of white sugar, or 2 to 4 Tbsp of brown sugar (to taste)
- 1 pound squid ink pasta
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh sage leaves (with a few small whole leaves for garnish)
- A splash of apple cider vinegar
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice off the top quarter of each pumpkin and scoop out the insides. (Save the seeds to make toasted pumpkin seeds.) Using a strong metal spoon or a small sharp knife, scrape all the fibrous insides out of the pumpkins. Sprinkle the insides of the pumpkins with salt and sugar. Set the pumpkins on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until a fork easily pierces the flesh and the edges are lightly browned.
2 Prepare the pasta water while the pumpkins are cooking. Bring a large pot of well salted water (it should taste like the sea) to a boil. When the pumpkins have about 10 minutes to go before they're done, add the pasta to the boiling water. When the pumpkins are cooked remove from the oven to a serving dish or plates.
3 While the pasta is cooking, prepare the browned butter sauce. Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and cook until browned bits begin to form in the butter and there is a lovely nutty aroma. Remove any whole sage leaves you are using for garnish. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the browned butter into a large serving bowl (this will stop the butter from cooking further). Browned butter can easily turn to blackened butter, which is not the flavor you want for this recipe.
4 When the pasta is ready (al dente, slightly firm, but cooked through), use tongs to remove the pasta from the pot to the large bowl with the browned butter. Allow some of the water from the pasta to drip into the bowl, it will help with the sauce. Toss the pasta with the browned butter. Splash a little cider vinegar over it. Taste for salt, it will likely need a bit more, especially if you've used unsalted butter. Add more if needed. Serve the pasta in the baked pumpkin shells. Garnish with reserved whole sage leaves that you had cooked with the sliced sage in the butter.