Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta

Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta
Have you ever had squid ink pasta? Bryan and I tried it for the first time in Venice while on our honeymoon. Squids use the dark ink as an escape mechanism, spraying dark clouds of it into the water to confuse their predators. Squid ink imparts a salty, briny ocean flavor and lends a beautiful black color to any dish that uses it.

We had the most amazing squid ink pasta several months back at Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante. When Bryan and I saw fresh homemade squid ink pasta for sale in the North End (Boston’s Italian district), we knew we had to get some and try it with one of Mario Batali’s recipes.

I found a simple Mario Batali recipe for a squid ink pasta dish that he serves at Babbo, his NYC establishment. I was surprised at how easy this recipe was, considering that the flavors are decently complex and the dish presents beautifully. Of course, the hardest part is finding the squid ink pasta, but you can make this dish with normal pasta too. Honestly, I’m not sure how much extra flavor the squid ink pasta contributed in my case, since this pasta’s “squid” flavor was actually quite light.
This dish can come together in less than 20 minutes total – it’s that easy and quick. Basically, you render the fat out of the pancetta, use the rendered fat to brown your vegetable of choice (in this case, parsnips), and toss in the pasta and combine! Throw in some pasta water to perfect the texture of the sauce, and finish off with some chopped parsley.

That’s it! And it tastes really good too!
Squid Ink Pasta
adapted from Mario Batali courtesy of MSNBC

Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta
serves 4 | prep time: 20 min

• 1 lb fresh Squid Ink Pasta (can substitute with regular pasta)
• Kosher salt
• 1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/4 inch half-moons
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
• Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

In a 12 to 14-inch sauté pan, cook the pancetta over high heat until it is browned and the fat has been rendered, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Add the butter and parsnips and sauté over high heat without shaking the pan too much until they are golden brown and slightly crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley, and cook 1 minute longer.

Cook the fresh homemade pasta in the boiling water until tender yet al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the pan with the parsnips and pancetta. Toss over high heat to coat the pasta, adding pasta cooking-water as necessary to keep the sauce from getting too tight. Divide equally among four heated pasta bowls, grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over each bowl, and serve immediately.

Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta

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  1. says

    I was actually going to make a dish this weekend using squid ink pasta that a foodie sent us from Italy but didn’t have any seafood on hand (thinking that would pair best with the pasta). Thanks for posting about this non-seafood recipe – My bacon-loving husband will definitely appreciate this dish!

  2. says

    ooh, never tried squid ink pasta, but it is so striking!! maybe when i’m in italy :) did you guys travel around italy or stick to the north?

  3. jentinyurbankitchen says

    Hi Shannon,
    We went to Rome, Florence, and Venice – in that order. We both loved Rome the best, but honestly, all of Italy is just amazing!

  4. jentinyurbankitchen says

    Ooh . . is your squid ink pasta dried pasta? I’m not sure what the ratio of dried pasta to sauce should be, but I’m sure it’s a bit flexible. Let me know how your squid ink pasta tastes! I’m curious whether it has more flavor than the one I bought in the States. :)

  5. jentinyurbankitchen says

    Squid ink TOFU? So interesting . . that’s actually much more unique than the pasta. Yeah, I love the color too!

  6. Ambitious says

    Looks beautiful! I’ve had squid ink pasta in NYC restaurants and the squid ink flavor is intense, which I really like.

    You could buy squid ink in a jar but it’s kind of expensive! :) Maybe one day I will try making it!

  7. carolynjung says

    I know the color scares some people. But I hope they give it a try. Squid ink in pasta or risotto is just heavenly.

  8. says

    So interesting! I had always wondered if the ink made the pasta taste any different. I came across a store selling squid ink and now I want to go back and make some pasta with it

  9. smilinggreenmom says

    It certainly does look gorgeous! I have never heard of squid ink pasta before, wow! This is something my hubs would probably love but the kids and I do not eat seafood. Maybe I will try this using our favorite pasta that is made from Kamut Khorasan Wheat! I bet it would be great – thanks!!

  10. says

    I just had some squid ink pasta… and maybe I didn’t prep it correctly but it was nice… no real “difference” from regular pasta just a dark flavor and buttery aroma. I just tossed some butter and garlic on it but it tasted too plain so I stepped it up with some seasoning and tomato sauce. I definitely need to cook more… 

  11. Ann says

    I made this the other night! It was so good! Everyone enjoyed it and wanted me. I love parsnips too. I had some squid ink pasta that I brought back from Italy and was waiting to use it on a good recipe and this proved successful. I also added portobello mushrooms because I love mushrooms and the dish was delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

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