This squid ink pasta with seafood is the perfect dinner for a special night. It’s luxurious and refined, but still approachable enough that you’ll want to make it again and again. The black squid ink gives the pasta a beautiful color, and the shrimp, clams, and squid provide a rich and savory flavor to the broth.
Pasta is the perfect pair for seafood like mussels, shrimp, and squid. Our creamy seafood lasagna and seafood mac and cheese are easy to make at home and loaded with delicious seafood flavors. And our garlic butter shrimp pasta is fast and easy. It is perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Skipping the cheese this time, our squid ink pasta recipe uses anchovy paste, white wine, and a savory mix of shallots, garlic, and fresh herbs for a savory and delicious seafood sauce.
One of the best things about this pasta recipe is its versatility. You can choose between several different kinds of seafood to create a pasta dish that works for you. And, while yes, you could use regular pasta instead of squid ink pasta for this recipe, if you’re able to find squid ink pasta, it’s worth it! It has more flavor than traditional pasta, tasting a little salty and slightly sweet.
Why This Recipe Works
- Savory and full of umami. From the squid ink pasta to the anchovy paste, this pasta is packed with a deep flavor that is perfect for seafood lovers.
- Versatile. You can easily swap the intended seafood with other types (see substitutions below) to account for what’s available, affordable, and what you enjoy! Don’t like squid? Replace it with scallops. Can’t find clams? Use mussels instead.
- Colorful and fun to eat. Squid ink pasta not only adds a unique flavor to this dish but also pairs well with seafood. The black pasta also gives the dish a unique look that is sure to impress your guests.
- Layers of flavor. The tomato paste and white wine add a touch of sweetness and acidity to the dish, while the shallots and garlic provide a subtle onion flavor.
Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for squid ink pasta. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.
- Black Squid Ink Pasta. The pasta gets its black color from squid ink or cuttlefish ink. It has a rich, subtle briny flavor that calls for seafood.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Leave half of your cherry tomatoes whole and slice the remainder in half.
- Olive oil. Light olive oil is perfect for cooking over medium to high heat. You can also use another light-tasting oil like avocado oil.
- Shallots. If you don’t have shallots, you can replace them with white or yellow onions.
- Garlic. Use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
- Clams. The recipe calls for littleneck clams scrubbed clean. If you’d rather use canned clams (or that’s all you have access to), they will work. Just add the canned clams at the end when adding the squid to avoid overcooking them. Don’t like clams? Use mussels.
- Anchovy Paste. Don’t skip this ingredient. Anchovy paste adds an amazing depth of flavor to the sauce. But if you don’t have anchovy paste, feel free to substitute it with smashed whole anchovies.
- White wine. Sauvignon blanc and Pinot grigio are excellent white wines to cook (and drink!).
- Shrimp. Use large shrimp that’s either already been peeled and deveined, or do this yourself before cooking. If frozen, defrost the shrimp first.
- Squid. If you can’t find squid, replace them with scallops if desired.
- Herbs. Freshly minced parsley and thyme.
- Spices. Red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
- Tomato Paste.
- Lemon Zest.
- Garnishes. Serve with lemons wedges, freshly grated parmesan cheese, chopped fresh basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to top off the pasta.
How to Make Squid Ink Pasta with Seafood
Here is a brief overview to get an idea of what to expect with the recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.
- Boil the pasta. Cook the squid ink pasta to al dente according to the package directions. When draining, reserve half a cup of the pasta water for later.
- Cook the shallots and garlic. Heat oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Cook the shallots until translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, then cook another minute.
- Cook the clams. Add the clams to the dutch oven and cover. Cook while shaking the pot for 2-3 minutes.
- Once the clams are opened, transfer them to a plate and cover them to keep them warm and moist. Discard any clams that have not opened.
- Make the sauce. Whisk the tomato paste, anchovy paste, and a splash of white wine in the pot until it’s lump free. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, white wine, clam juice, half of the parsley, and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered until the sauce is reduced.
- Add the shrimp and squid. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the shrimp, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add the squid, lemon zest, rest of the parsley, and the halved tomatoes, cover, and cook a couple more minutes until the shrimp and squid are cooked through.
- Assemble the pasta. Remove the pot from the heat, add the clams, and cover for another 2-3 minutes. Use the reserved pasta water to adjust the sauce consistency. Serve over the squid ink pasta and serve with lemon wedges, freshly grated parmesan cheese, chopped basil leaves, and a drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil.
Tips for Success
If cooking seafood like clams, mussels, shrimp, and squid is a little intimidating, you can gain confidence with these tips for our squid ink pasta recipe.
- When you purchase fresh clams or mussels: Clams and mussels in the shell should be fresh and tightly closed. If you come across any open shells, give them a light tap, and they should close. However, if the shell remains open or you find cracked or chipped shells, throw those out.
- Cook the clams first. They will release juices and add flavor to the pot. Remove them from the pot, so they don’t overcook but keep them covered so they don’t dry out.
- A mixture of whole and sliced cherry tomatoes will add to the dish’s texture, but you can keep them all whole if you prefer.
- If you use fresh squid ink pasta instead of dry pasta, it can overcook if you add it to the pot of seafood too soon. Place the cooked fresh pasta in individual bowls and then top it with the seafood mixture.
- The seafood in this recipe cooks quickly. If you overcook shrimp, clams, or squid, they can get tough and rubbery.
- You can purchase squid ink pasta in all shapes and sizes, from long shapes like spaghetti and linguini to shorter shapes like Penne and Fusilli. Use whatever shape you can find.
Frequently Asked Questions
Adding squid ink to pasta adds a slightly salty and umami flavor and visual appeal to pasta that complements many sauces in Japanese and Mediterranean dishes.
Squid ink pasta doesn’t taste fishy, but it does have a salty “briney” taste to it.
No, the black pasta will not stain your mouth.
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- A Dutch Oven is the perfect pot for all your kitchen needs. This one is our favorite because it comes with a grill lid.
- A chef’s knife for all your chopping and dicing.
- A lemon zester for fine bits of lemon rind.
- Squid ink pasta
More Seafood Recipes You’ll Love
Try this Spanish Romesco Seafood Stew for a dish that’s infused with flavors of the sea. The spicy chorizo sausage, shrimp, mussels, and scallops are served in a spicy sauce and topped with pacific cod for a filling and flavorful meal.
Looking for a healthy and flavorful dinner? Mediterranean Halibut Provencal is an easy one-skillet meal for a heart-healthy weeknight meal. And our pan-fried rockfish and Parmesan Sole only takes 20 minutes.
Try an open-faced crab melt for a hand-held quick and easy meal. Fresh crab meat, melted cheese, and juicy tomato slices are piled on top of fresh sourdough bread for a coastal cafe-quality meal.
This recipe was inspired by America’s Test Kitchen.
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- 1 pound squid ink pasta
- 1-1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 12 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup bottled clam juice
- 1 cup fresh minced parsley, divided
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1-1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 8 ounces squid, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 2 whole lemons, sliced into wedges
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil for serving
- Extra Virgin olive oil to drizzle over the pasta
Cook the Squid Ink Pasta and Prep the Tomatoes
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the squid ink pasta and cook according to package directions.
- Just before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Set the drained pasta and the reserved pasta water aside for later.
- Slice half of the cherry tomatoes in half and leave the rest of them whole. Set aside for later.
Cook the Clams
- Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat (I used a Dutch Oven). Add the shallots and cook for about 3 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the clams and place the lid on the pot. Cook, keeping the pot covered and shaking occasionally for 3 to 4 minutes. Take a peak under the lid, if they are not open, cover the pot and continue to cook them. Check them every 2 to 3 minutes until all or nearly all of them are open.
- Transfer the clams to a bowl and discard any that have not opened. It’s ok if some of the garlic and shallots get stuck to the clams. Leave any broth from the clams in the pot. Cover the bowl of clams to keep them warm and prevent them from drying out.
Make the Sauce
- Add the tomato paste and anchovy paste to the pot. Pour in a splash of the white wine and whisk it around until the tomato and anchovy pastes are lump-free. Stir in the whole cherry tomatoes (save the halved tomatoes for later).
- Pour in the rest of the wine, the clam juice, 1/2 cup of parsley (reserve the other half for later), thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by about one-third.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the shrimp. Cover the pot and cook for 3 minutes (if you have extra large shrimp, cook for 4 to 6 minutes).
- Add the squid, lemon zest, the remaining 1/2 cup parsley, and the halved tomatoes. Cover the pot and cook for 2 more minutes or until the shrimp and squid are cooked through (extra large shrimp may need an extra minute to cook).
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the clams and black squid ink pasta. Cover the pot and let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes until the clams warm up again.
- Adjust the consistency of the sauce with the reserved pasta water. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Serve with lemon wedges, freshly grated parmesan cheese, chopped basil leaves, and a drizzle of good olive oil.
- If you use canned clams, add them when you add the squid at the end.
- You can replace the squid with scallops. Small scallops will only need 2 minutes to cook and larger scallops will need 3 to 4 minutes.
- You can substitute the clams with mussels or use both. It will take anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes to cook the clams or mussels, depending on their size. You know they are finished cooking when they open. Occasionally, there will be a few that do not open and you should toss those out.
- When you purchase clams and mussels in the shell, they should be fresh and tightly closed. If you see any that are open, tap them and they should close. If they don’t close, toss them out. If you find any shells that are cracked or chipped toss them out as well.
- You can substitute the anchovy paste with 4 to 5 whole anchovies, smashed with a fork.
- After you cook the clams, make sure you keep them covered while you prep the rest of the dish. They will dry out and get too cold if you leave them uncovered.
- If you don’t have a shallot, use half of a small onion.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 756Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 517mgSodium: 9453mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 90g
Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.