Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin, Sage and Browned Butter

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Squid ink pasta tossed with sage brown butter and served in a baked pumpkin.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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 with Pumpkin, Sage and Browned Butter Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

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
  • Salt
  • 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.

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Pumpkin Pasta with Squid Ink Sauce - from Salty Seattle
Babbo's Black Pasta - from Just a Taste
Finnish Meatballs with Squid Ink Pasta in a Pumpkin - from Habeas Brulee
Black Pasta, Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Black Garlic Sauce - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Squid Ink Spaghetti with Shrimp and White Truffle Oil from Lemons and Anchovies
Wikipedia on squid ink


Showing 4 of 26 Comments / Reviews

  • Patience


    Made this at work and everyone loved it! Used black bean pasta to make it vegan!

  • Jessica Martinez

    Have you ever had Black Paella? – It’s like a traditional paella but with squid ink. At first I was very, VERY, hesitant to try it but I went for it and now it’s become one of those dishes that I reminisce about.

  • Kate McDermott-Art of the Pie

    Elise-Sometime I must take you squid jigging on a cold winter night in the Pacific NW. If you’re lucky we’ll come back with a bucket full of just caught squid. Nothing like fresh squid ink and calamari but this recipe will fit the bill until then.

    It’s a deal! ~Elise

  • Mike

    OK. I’ve forgotten the name of the Italian restaurant downstairs from the SF YMCA on The Embarcadero. But they featured ravioli stuffed with squid and the pasta was made with the ink. Not only was it delicious, so were the looks on the faces of those NY bankers when we took them there for dinner!

  • Celeste Quinn

    Wow, or whoa! How dramatic. So, what does a pasta mildly flavored by squid ink taste like? There are other squashes that would seem to be a nice fit. And can one buy squid ink to color pasta? Am thinking squid-inky ravioli stuffed with squash or sweet potato purée. And for extra points, a pasta made with some orange-fleshed squash together with the squid ink pasta. Two raviolis side by side? Brown butter w/sage, or gently simmered in your vegetagle stock? What do your folks think, and Hank, and other contributors? Happy Halloween. No booing here-what a great food blog.

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Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin, Sage and Browned Butter