Linguine with Cuttlefish Black Sauce

“Linguine col Nero delle Seppie”

“Pasta cu Nivuru”)


This dish is prepared in many Sicilian towns and in particular in the Oriental part of Sicily, where this recipe originated.
The classic black sauce to dress the linguine or spaghettini is made from the cuttlefish’s sack containing a black liquid. Also used is the squids’ sack that contains a small quantity of black liquid.
The cuttlefish is less tender than the squid and cooking it requires that this mollusk is tenderized or cooked in a pressure cooker.
The sauce”niura”, black made in Syracuse is different from any other black sauce I have sampled: the smell of the sea is predominant in the black sauce and it is not spoiled by the addition of too many ingredients.
The aspect of this pasta dish is different and may not be too attractive, due to the black color of the sauce, but if you are willing to try it, you will become an aficionado to this gourmet delicacy.


Serves 4



  • 1 ½ lb. cuttlefish
  • 1 lb. linguine or spaghettini pasta
  • 4 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon of tomato paste  
  • ¼ of cup white wine
  • ¼ cup of parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • mint leaves to garnish
  • ¼ lb. grated pecorino cheese (optional)



The Cuttlefish
Clean the cuttlefish separating the head from the sac. Remove and set aside the small sacs containing the black liquid. Be careful not to squeeze the little sacs so you can avoid spilling the liquid all over.


Eliminate the bone and the skin, cut the white tube in small strips and the tentacles in small pieces. Cook in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes.

The Sauce
In a large sauté pan, over a medium heat, place the oil with the onions and cook until onions are light brown. Add tomato paste and sauté for 3 minute, stirring in 1 cup of water a little at a time. Add the cooked cuttlefish, sauté for 2 minutes stirring occasionally.


         OnionsOil & MintParsley

Add wine and cook over high heat for about 2 minutes, until alcohol content in wine evaporates. Add 1 cup of water, the chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower flame and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

The Pasta
Boil 5 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons of salt and cook pasta al dente, following the directions on the package.
Warm the sauce on a medium heat and add to it the black liquid contained in the small sacs.
Drain pasta and reserve some of the water.

The Assembly
Add pasta to the pan with the sauce; toss over a high flame to blend the sauce and the linguine. If pasta gets too dry add some of the reserved liquid. Remove from the flame and serve immediately.


                          Pasta with Black Sauce

Garnish each plate with parsley leaves and serve grated pecorino on the side.

Note: There is no substitute for fresh cuttlefish, but if it is not available can be substituted with squid, calamari, if the “ink” in not enough, it can be brought in good gourmet stores.


                            Linguine Cuttlefish Sauce