No Eye of Newt recipe; how about squid ink?

by: Barb Randall, Uwajimaya Asian market in Beaverton stocks squid ink. Look for a similar package to this Spanish brand.

I couldn't find any recipes requiring Eye of Newt or Bat Wings for your Halloween feasts, but I did find one that calls for several vials of fresh Squid Ink. Care to try it?

I teach cooking classes through Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation. I enjoy creating festive foods that gently push students out of their comfort zone in terms of improving culinary techniques and trying new foods. It's going to be tough to top this year's Halloween class menu.

In keeping with the frightful theme, I selected a recipe for the children's Halloween class that made the blood in my veins run cold: Black Linguine with Orange and Red Peppers.

What a visual image that creates! The black linguine in the recipe is squid ink pasta, commonly used in Spanish cuisine.

If you remember your high school biology, squid, cuttlefish and octopus squirt ink in the face of their enemies, hoping the cloud created will be enough cover for them to escape danger. The ink will turn pasta or risotto the deepest, darkest black and impart a pleasant, slightly salty taste.

Where am I going to get Black Linguine, I mused. A quick call to Martinotti's Italian Café and Deli told me they stock the dried pasta.

That's not much of a cooking lesson: Making pasta from a box. How can we make our own squid ink pasta?

Martinotti's didn't carry squid or cuttlefish ink; an online search located the ink at a small cost, but with a mighty steep shipping fee. My friends at In Good Taste saved the day: I bought their last three boxes of Squid Ink and the pasta rolling attachment for my Kitchenaid I'd been coveting.

Making the squid ink pasta was a snap. In the time it took to say 'Trick or Treat' I had the dough resting, a beautiful smooth ball of ebony.

I had been warned that commercially made squid ink pasta loses quite a bit of color while cooking and becomes an unattractive gray color. Gray pasta could work for Halloween, however I think you will prefer to make your own deep, dark squid ink pasta.

Local fish markets can supply you with fresh squid ink, and Uwajimaya Asian market in Beaverton stocks packaged squid ink regularly.

Today's recipe is petrifyingly perfect for Halloween. The blood red of the sauteed peppers is striking against the deep black squiggles of pasta. Add some wilted spinach for a splash of bright green and steam a head of purple cauliflower and you will have a vibrantly colored Spooktacular Feast that will please every ghoul and goblin at your table!

Bon appetit - Eat Locally!

Homemade pasta dough:

3 cups all purpose flour

3 eggs

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Water as needed

Flour for dusting

Enough squid ink to produce the desired black intensity, about 20 grams

It's a good idea to wear food service gloves when working with squid ink, as it can stain skin and clothing.

Pour the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. Break the eggs into the well, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Add the squid ink and begin to incorporate the eggs with the flour, a little at a time, with your fingers, drawing more flour into the mixture.

Once the flour and eggs are combined and you can form a ball, knead for about eight minutes until the dough is smooth. Knead for at least three minutes before you add any water. If you must add water, do so by wetting your hands only. If the dough gets too wet, dust with flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

You can also mix and knead the dough in your stand mixer.

Roll the dough either with a rolling pin or pasta roller (much more satisfactory!) and cut into desired shape (linguine, fettuccini, etc.)

Black Linguine with Orange and Red Peppers

Serves 6 to 8 as a first course

Either use commercially made black pasta or make your own.

4 large garlic cloves, minced

Scant ¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 orange bell peppers cut into thin strips

1 red bell pepper cut into thin strips

¾ cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken broth or water

½ pound black linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Garnish: Fresh flat leaf parsley sprigs

In a 5-quart kettle bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil for pasta.

In a 12-inch heavy skillet cook garlic with pepper flakes in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic begins to turn golden. Add bell peppers with salt to taste and cook, stirring, until softened. Add wine and boil, stirring occasionally until almost all liquid is evaporated. Add broth or water and simmer, covered, until bell peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Pepper mixture may be made one day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat mixture in skillet before proceeding.

In boiling water, cook pasta until al dente and drain in a colander. Add pasta to pepper mixture with parsley and toss with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat until combined well and heated through.

Divide pasta mixture among 6 small plates and garnish with parsley.

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, Oct. 1995

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at [email protected]

To buy black pasta already prepared, go to Martinotti's Italian Café and Deli, 404 S.W. 10th St., Portland.