Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin, Sage and Browned Butter

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.

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


  • 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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  • 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

  • Karlette

    I made this last night, and it was delish! The recipe is so simple that I thought it might be bland. Was I wrong! I use squid ink pasta from time to time, but always with some sort of seafood–shrimp, crayfish, etc. Paring it with the browned butter and sage–in a pumpkin shell no less, brilliant! My husband raved about it! I will be making this again and again! Thank you.


  • Glitterati

    I love squid ink pasta! The first time I had it was at this little trattoria in Venice. I ordered not knowing what it was, and our very sweet server only spoke enough English to convey that it was a seafood pasta dish. Imagine my surprise when the plate arrived! But it was so delicious. I’ve tried recreating a “ghetto” version — just regular pasta, but tossed with warmed garlic, crushed red pepper, & tinned squid in its ink. Not quite the same as Venice, but still tasty. Looking forward to trying this creative recipe!

  • JLE

    When I lived in Taiwan several years ago, I was intrigued by the black bread that many of the local bakeries served. Being adventurous enough to try anything (you have to be in a foreign country!), I quickly fell in love with these mini loaves with a crusty texture and such a unique flavour. It was months later that I found out the bread was flavoured with squid ink, much to my surprise! Living in Saskatchewan, I haven’t found any squid ink products yet, oh how I would love to have some black bread right now! Thanks for the reminder….. :)

  • Mark L.

    Amazon has a number of options available for squid ink. As for my favorite preparation, a few months ago Mulvaney’s here in Sacramento had a squid ink pasta tossed with sea beans and roasted vegetables and topped with seared sea scallops basted with uni butter. To. Die. For.

  • Annie

    You can make this with black bean spaghetti and it will give the same color effect. I bought some black bean spaghetti at Whole Foods. It is quite nutritious and a good vegetarian alternative.

  • Jessica

    I actually have some squid ink pasta I picked up at Target and I’ve yet to decide what to do with it! I think I may have to give this a try. ;-)

  • Natika33

    This sounds divine! I wish I had pumpkins here, but maybe kabocha squash will work?

    In Japan, squid ink pasta is usually prepared with a pepperoncini sauce, (suitably devilish, eh?) though I’ve also seen it with a soy sauce based cremini mushroom and nori sauce.

    • DonnaR

      Kabocha would be a great choice. I occasionally find them in my area. The flavor is very similar to sugar pumpkins and the texture is dryer. Most pumpkins tend to let off a lot of water during cooking

  • Rebecca

    Thanks Rosita for the tip… I was wondering if it wouldn’t stain your lips and teeth! No one else mentioned it – I’d think that’s an important detail to know, so you don’t serve this to someone you’re really trying to impress!

    This really does sound yummy though. I hope to try it eventually! Thank you Elise for expanding our horizons!

    The pasta did not stain my teeth. But then again, I wasn’t using homemade squid ink pasta, nor was I making a sauce with squid ink. ~Elise

  • DessertForTwo

    I adore squid ink! I love the squid ink risotto at a place in little Italy. Oh I wish I could remember the name! It tastes like salty ocean water. Love your homemade version! :)

  • Greedy Traveller

    Very seasonal for Halloween – I like it! Squid ink pasta is difficult to get hold of where I live. I ate it for the first time earlier this year on a trip to Venice, it was delicious and had cuttlefish mixed with it. Your post has inspired me to search for the pasta to make a similar dish at home. Thanks :)

  • Ella

    My one experience with this pasta was at a restaurant. It was homemade, in a red sauce with calamari. Didn’t care for it, as it was a little too fishy and ink flavor…. and looked really gruesome! This sounds a lot better, though I have not seen it at store before. Might have to look for it in the pasta isle. Love the idea of using the pumpkin as the bowl.

  • Rachel

    This looks so, um, not exactly delicious, but definitely fun. My 4-yr-old would love it!

  • Juliana

    Where I live in Luxembourg there is a great little italian restaurant where they serve squid ink pasta with avocado and shrimp and in another dish with scallops, yum!

  • Marj Weir

    wow – I just can’t get past the way it looks, the first bite would have to be incredible to get me to dive in. Although, maybe if it was the squid ink pasta plated with a great curried squash sauce on top? Thanks for being creative though! And you have great photos…..

  • Kelly Senyei

    What an absolutely stunning dish, Elise! I love that you serve it in a pumpkin, and the colors could not be more perfect for Halloween or for the SF Giants (I’m a huge fan)!

  • Rosita

    How cute! Love squid ink pasta. As a bonus it turns your tongue/lips/teeth black.

  • Sylvia

    sounds intriguing. Where would you find squid ink pasta? Or squid ink? Maybe Trader Joe’s?

    Hi Sylvia, My parents used to find squid ink pasta at the local Trader Joe’s, but apparently now they no longer carry it. I would try Whole Foods, or if you have a specialty Italian grocer in your area that would be a good place to look too. ~Elise

  • Jaime Zapata

    I once made some home made squid ink linguine with octopus for one Halloween. The pasta was a little fishy, but otherwise looked just as you’d imagine. Actually went quite well with the sauvignon blanc!

  • 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.

  • 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!