squid ink pasta aglio e olio

Cobbled together from a lot of Googling, a quality piece of investigative culinary journalism, and my favorite blank canvas aglio e olio recipe.




 to ½ pound fresh squid, minced or ground in a food processor

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon (about 45 cloves) minced garlic, divided 

½ anchovy fillet, minced (about ½ teaspoon), or more if desired

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

½ pound dried squid ink pasta or ¾ pounds fresh (see Notes)

34 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

Salt and pepper

Squeeze lemon juice or a bit of lemon zest (optional)

½ cup fresh parsley, for serving


If you haven’t already, clean, skin, and mince your squid or run it through a food processor until ground into small chunks.  Set aside.

Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles on the pan.  Add the oil and one tablespoon minced garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is a very pale golden brown, about 10 minutes. 

Increase heat to medium and add the squid and anchovies.  Cook, stirring, just until the squid is opaque, 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in the red pepper flakes, and set aside.

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. (The pasta should still have quite a bit of bite; it will continue to cook in the sauce, so I prefer to take it off the heat when it’s several minutes less cooked than I want.)

Reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water, then drain the pasta and add it to the squid mixture in the cast iron skillet. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon garlic, Parmesan, and 1 cup of pasta water.  Return the heat to medium and stir until pasta is well-coated with oil and no water remains in the bottom of the pot. 

Season with more salt and pepper to taste, as well as a squeeze of lemon juice if desired. Serve, with extra Parmesan on the side and fresh parsley, if desired. Enjoy!



With free time in shorter supply these days, dried pasta was the way to go for us, and makes this recipe wonderfully quick yet special all the same.  If you have the time to make pasta from hand, there are recipes aplenty for homemade squid ink pasta, but I think adding 4-6 teaspoons of squid ink to this recipe would be a great place to start experimenting. 

Cleaning and preparing a whole squid was an adventure I was wholly unprepared for and yet wholly enjoyed (wait until you pull out the spine).  Just watch a tutorial if you’ve never done it before.  And if it’s in Italian by someone named Alessandro, even better.