Spaghetti and Squid in Squid Ink Sauce

Spaghetti al nero di seppia recipe

​The Spruce Eats / Diana Mocanu

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
463 Calories
16g Fat
44g Carbs
32g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 463
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 330mg 110%
Sodium 3644mg 158%
Total Carbohydrate 44g 16%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Protein 32g
Calcium 134mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In this dramatic Italian dish called spaghetti al nero di seppia, tender fresh squid is cooked in a sauce containing its own ink. This adds both a tangy sea flavor and a deep black sheen to the sauce. You will most likely have to go to a fishmonger who has very fresh fish to obtain the squid, but it's worth the trip.

There is, of course, squid-ink pasta, in which the squid ink is mixed into the dough so that the pasta itself is jet black. However, that is a completely different dish. In this recipe, regular spaghetti is tossed in a tangy sauce made of squid ink, white wine, tomato paste, and squid. It's very interesting and definitely a culinary adventure.


  • 1 1/4 pounds squid (extremely fresh, uncleaned)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled, minced)
  • 1 small bunch parsley (minced)
  • Black pepper (freshly ground, to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (diluted in a little water, or 3 tablespoons tomato sauce)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti
  • Fine sea salt (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for spaghetti al nero di seppia
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  2. To begin cleaning the squid, carefully separate the heads from the tentacles.

    Squid on cutting board
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  3. Remove the guts, setting aside the ink sacs (be careful not to break them).

    Gutted squid
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  4. Wash the squid well under cold water.

    Rinsed squid
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  5. Dice the bodies and chop the tentacles.

    Diced squid
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  6. Over a small bowl, open the ink sacs and collect the ink.

    Collect squid ink
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  7. In a pot, heat the oil and sauté the garlic without letting it brown.

    sauteed garlic in oil
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  8. Add the squid, minced parsley, and a generous dusting of freshly ground pepper.

    Add squid and parsley
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  9. Cover and simmer the sauce over low heat for about 45 minutes. Check it periodically to make sure it's not sticking (if it is, add a little hot water).

    Cover and simmer
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  10. Once the sauce has simmered, mix the tomato paste or sauce with the white wine and add it to the pot.

    Add tomato sauce
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  11. Simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.

    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  12. Dilute the sauce with a little hot water, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes longer. At this point, the sauce should be neither too soupy nor too dry.

    Dilute the sauce with hot water
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu 
  13. About 30 minutes before serving time, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, add 1 to 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt, and stir. Once it's returned to a rolling boil, add the pasta.

    Uncooked spaghetti and water in pot
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  14. At the same time, stir the squid ink into the sauce, adding the amount that suits your taste.

    Stir squid ink into sauce
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  15. When the spaghetti is al dente (usually 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the brand), drain it well.

    Cooked spaghetti in pot
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  16. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce to coat all of the strands evenly.

    Toss spaghetti with sauce
    ​The Spruce / Diana Mocanu
  17. Serve and enjoy!

    spaghetti al nero di seppia
    ​The Spruce Eats / Diana Mocanu

Wine Pairing Suggestions

A white wine would be an excellent pairing for this dish. You can even enjoy the remainder of the wine you cooked with. A Lugana might be nice as well, and a Chardonnay makes another worthy and easily attainable choice.

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