How to Make Black Pasta


One of the characteristics that makes pasta so versatile is its ability to incorporate colors or flavors when it is made. Green pasta made with spinach is a common example, and red pasta can be made by adding tomato or roasted pepper puree. A striking example of colored pasta is the black variety, made with squid or cuttlefish ink. The ink may be purchased from fishmongers and Italian specialty shops or harvested from fresh squid. The pasta itself is made the same way as any other kind of fresh pasta.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, or Italian '00" flour, plus additional for kneading and rolling
  • Salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • 1-2 tbsp. squid ink
  • Whisk
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rolling pin
  • Pasta-making machine
  • Knife
  • Pot
  • Cutting board
  • Gloves

Mixing the Pasta

  • Mound the flour into a pile on your work surface. Sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. Make a large well in the middle of the flour with your fingers.

  • Whisk the egg yolks and olive oil in a small mixing bowl. Add the squid ink. If you're using packaged ink, you'll need one or two pouches, each of which contains about a tablespoon of ink. Use one pouch for dark-colored noodles or two pouches for a vividly black pasta with a slightly salty, ocean-like tang to the flavor. Whisk again until the ingredients are well combined.

    If you are harvesting the ink yourself, see section 2.

  • Pour the liquid ingredients carefully into the well in the middle of the flour. Stir with your fingers, slowly incorporating flour from the edges of the well into the liquid ingredients. Continue until the dough comes together to form a stiff ball. Use additional flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter or your hands.

  • Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is stiff but elastic. Place the dough in a bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying. Allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes. During this time, the moisture will be evenly distributed through the dough, and gluten will form, making it smoother and more elastic.

  • Separate the dough into five or six balls, and roll them into very thin sheets with a rolling pin or pasta-making machine. Let the sheets dry for a few minutes on the counter until they are leathery but still supple.

  • Insert the pasta machine's crank into the cutter mechanism, choosing either the thin or wide cutter. Feed the sheets of pasta with one hand, while cranking with the other. Toss the noodles lightly to separate them, and repeat.

  • Roll up the sheets of dough like a jelly roll if you prefer to cut them by hand. Cut each roll crosswise to form the noodles, then toss them until they've uncurled and opened up. Repeat with the remaining sheets until all the dough has been used.

  • Cook one pound of fresh pasta in five quarts of salted water at a rolling boil. This will serve four as a main course. Fresh-made pasta is fully cooked in three minutes or less, so test it often as it cooks. When it is al dente, tender but with a slightly chewy texture, drain the pasta, and serve it with your choice of sauce.

Harvesting the Ink from Fresh Squid

  • Lay out two or three small squid on a cutting board. Grasp the squid's head firmly with one hand, and hold the body, or mantle, with the other. Pull the head gently but firmly. The squid will separate into two pieces. The entrails will slide out with the head.

  • Locate the ink sac in the cluster of organs immediately behind the head. It is a narrow black bladder and should be immediately visible. If it is not, turn the head and entrails over and look on the other side.

  • Free the ink sac from the rest of the squid's organs by cutting carefully with the tip of a knife. Set the ink sac aside, and repeat with the remaining squid. Reserve the mantles and tentacles for use in other recipes.

  • Add the ink to your pasta by pricking the sac with a knife and draining it into the mixing bowl. It is best to wear gloves while doing this because squid ink will stain your fingers. Once the ink has been added to the bowl, proceed exactly as directed in the section above.

Tips & Warnings

  • Squid ink is perishable and must be harvested from the freshest of squid. If you are uncertain whether you can get truly fresh squid in your location, it is better to order packaged ink from your fishmonger.

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