*Aside- Doods! I’m nominated in two categories (Best Writing Voice and Most Humorous Blog) for the Foodbuzz blog awards. If you can find it in your heart to vote for me, go HERE. Voting ends October 17th.
I spend the month of October in a dithered state. Perhaps the most important day of the year falls on the 31st. In anticipation, I pace and fret like a teenage boy in need of a sock and some hand cream. There is no way for me to blow my Halloween wad besides interminably waiting for the day to come, which I hearken with French horns played by purple poodles standing on their haunches with their doggie lipsticks out in full salute. In the meantime, I content myself by dreaming up fancy orange and black food that does not contain candy corn or shit smears of fondant.
One such creation is this pumpkin spaghetti served with roasted red pepper and squid ink sauce. Too often, the savory side of Halloween is overlooked. I offer this dish as a foil to all the candy you’re sure to inevitably cram in your gob. I know this because I saw you at Costco buying three value packs of Three Musketeers even though you live in a condo with a secure entrance and the only trick-or-treater you get is the pizza delivery guy.
That wasn’t you, you say? You can try all you want to hide under that mullet wig shod in Crocs and socks and dressed in Kmart sweats that gather at the ankles, waist and wrists, but I’d recognize your little butterfly tramp stamp anywhere. Which is going to turn into a prehistoric moth if you eat all those Three Musketeers. So trust me, put down the candy. Haul out the pasta machine. Step away from the big box stores and go buy a sugar pumpkin from the farmer’s market.
Not from the grocery store. Because if you buy it at the grocery store and you snap a photo of the squash next to it since it resembles an infected elephantitis man part, you will be hauled off to the authorities. By authorities I mean the store manager. Who will sternly admonish you for documenting goiter gourds in his esteemed establishment. You will be a little embarrassed for unknowingly violating the store policy against photo-making, but mostly you will be proud of your penile transgression. Somebody had to expose that squash because it really needs to get to the clinic stat.
The next item you must track down to put together this little plate of horrors is squid ink. It’s not as easy as buying a squid, if that was your plan, because what we commonly refer to as squid ink is actually nero di seppia or cuttlefish ink. Cuttlefish are squid’s stockier, meatier big brothers, and their ink is said to be mellower than that of squid, which can be pungent and harsh (if you are thinking of the affects of aging on sperm right now, you’re not alone). Did you know that deep water squid have the greatest known penis length relative to body size of all mobile animals? Well now you do- get cracking with those stretching exercises, human men.
If you live in a metropolis of any size, squid ink shouldn’t be hard to track down. In Seattle I know of several places that carry it, including Mutual Fish and Uwajimaya. It may be that it’s easy to locate in Seattle because we have a preternatural fascination with all things black, but I don’t imagine you’ll need to wrestle a cuttlefish to find it where you live. That would be awkward, what with his giant penis and all.
If you’ve never cooked with squid ink, you’re in for a briny, salacious treat. I have gotten to the point where I can squirt it out of the little packets I buy it in directly onto my tongue. I call it witch’s Listerine and gargle with it like a steampunk sorceress. For some, it’s overwhelmingly salty. Use it judiciously and heed my instructions in the recipe, that way you’ll be sure not to overdo it, as you can always add more.
Squid ink has been recently linked to inhibiting angiogenesis (induction of blood vessel growth often associated with tumors). This means that it can potentially aid in the battle against cancerous tumors. So in addition to crafting a canvas of pasta fit for Jackson Pollock, you’re also helping fight the good fight.
This dish also contains spicy Spanish chorizo sausage, which plays nice with squid ink. While I don’t mind flaccid Mexican chorizo, its hard Spanish kissing cousin sets my blood aboil. It is virtually unbeatable for adding heat and meat to pasta and sauce. Speaking of sauce, I chose to base the sauce in red peppers since they pick up the squid ink tint well and match the intensity of the chorizo, which might have overpowered a simple tomato sauce.
I topped the noodles with pepitas, which are the tender inner parts of pumpkin seed hulls. I gave the pepitas a little kick with the help of sistah Sriracha. She make everything burn like bare boobies on Barbados in August. I roasted the pepitas with Sriracha, some garlic powder and a hint of salt until the warm scent of spicy pumpkin seeds filled the air and teased me into several sneezes. These spicy pepitas make excellent garnishes, but are great standalone snacks too- that is if you can handle the heat.
I’m going to shut up and share the recipe with you now because it makes me happy when you’re happy. And because I don’t want to risk you being so bored you’re reaching for the Three Musketeers as we speak. Stop that! Stop it right now or I’ll slap your hand. Make pasta. Pumpkin pasta good. Big penis squid ink oil slick sauce very good. Pepitas and chorizo also good. Good like making spicy Halloween love under a full moon wearing nothing but a witch cape howling like a werewolf. This dish will do that to you.
Pumpkin Noodles (of which I made spaghetti)
- 500 grams 00 flour (+ more as necessary depending on how wet your pumpkin puree is)
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 200 grams puree from a sweet pumpkin
- 20 grams pumpkin oil
- 10 grams salt
- Semolina flour for rolling out the pasta
- Additional pumpkin oil for tossing the cooked pumpkin noodles after you remove them from the boiling water
- Place flour in bowl of standing mixer, and make a depression in the center. Add the yolks, egg, pumpkin and salt. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients and a smooth dough forms. You may need to add extra flour, depending on the water content of your pumpkin puree.
- Wrap the dough ball in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 24.
- Roll the pasta into sheets and then cut into desired pasta shape according to the directions of your pasta maker, or by hand. Be sure to use plenty of semolina for keeping the dough from sticking, as this dough is especially tacky and the noodles will clump together as they’re drying if you’re not careful.
- Dry the pasta for a few hours before boiling. Boil for a very short time- mine took about 60 seconds. Strain and toss immediately in pumpkin oil.
Squid Ink-Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 medium shallot, diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeds discarded
- 1- 15 oz can of tomato sauce
- 1-2 packets squid ink (each packet is 4 grams, this addition should be done “to taste”, but I prefer all 8 grams)
- In a medium saucepan, saute the shallot in the olive oil for two minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute, stirring frequently. Add the red peppers and tomato sauce and cook until heated through, about three minutes.
- Remove the sauce from heat and add one squid ink packet. Puree the sauce until it is very smooth with an immersion blender. Taste the sauce and add more squid ink to your preferred taste. Note that there is no salt in this sauce because the squid ink stands in with its brininess. Just before plating, rewarm the sauce.
Chorizo and Shallots
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ of a Palacios Spanish chorizo, chopped into thin discs
- 1 small shallot, chopped fine
- 1 or 2 drops squid ink (optional)
- Saute the chorizo and shallot in olive oil until the chorizo is slightly soft and the shallots are melty, about 4 minutes.
- At this point I like to remove half of the chorizo from the pan and add a few drops of squid ink so that only half of the chorizo take on a blackened color- that way I have a dish that is truly fit for Halloween.
- 1/2 c raw pepitas
- 2 tsp Sriracha sauce
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the pepitas with the other ingredients in a small bowl. Roast them on a sheetpan for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the kitchen is Sriracha-scented and the seeds take on a slightly brown tinge.
To compose the dish:
Ladle a slick of squid ink sauce on a plate. Toss the noodles with the chorizo and shallots. Place a portion of pasta on top of the sauce. Garnish with spicy pepitas. Enjoy!