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Squid Ink Pasta with Prawns and Fennel

Squid ink pasta with prawns lends both flavour and a splash of drama to a pretty classic shrimp spaghetti with garlic, chilli and lemon.

This dish tastes every bit as good as it looks and the earthy ozone hints of the black pasta shine through the simple classic flavours.

Prawn pasta with squid ink spaghetti fennel, lemon zest and chilli.

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

Spaghetti with shrimp or prawns is a really classic combination and whilst this recipe may look different it does not stray far from classic combinations.

I just love fennel, you must check it out in this delicious fennel pasta recipe as well as in this verdant spinach and fennel soup recipe. I serve this pickled fennel and lentil salad with pan seared salmon all of the time!

Other than that we have chilli, lemon and garlic, really simple and traditional flavours, in fact, flavours are also used in my prawn and pea pasta recipe.

The elephant in the room is that dramatic black pasta! The name gives away its source, it is pasta made with squid ink, genius hey?

It has a very mild flavour in terms of “fishiness” but it has the most luxurious and silky mouthfeel.

Of course, it also looks stunning!

You could also use it in my prawn and chorizo pasta, chilli prawn linguine and prawn pesto pasta recipes, and it stars in my squid ink spaghetti served with spinach and bacon.

Overhead prawn pasta with squid ink spaghetti fennel and chilli.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size and type of prawns should I use?

I always use frozen prawns and try where possible to get raw shelled and frozen. They are essential for a dish like my harissa prawns which you simply must check out.

But this garlic and chilli prawn pasta recipe works equally well with parboiled frozen prawns.

On the size, try and go for prawns either in the 16-20 or 21-30 count. This measure is the count of how many prawns you get per pound.

Can I make this with regular spaghetti?

Yes, the flavours are really very classic and this dish will work perfectly with regular spaghetti.

How do you slice fennel this thin?

I use a mandolin to get very thin slices of fennel, just be sure to use the guard or a glove to protect your fingers.

Do I have to add the chilli?

No, chilli is an optional ingredient here and I do not use a lot of it, so it is not an insanely spicy dish. But if you are chilli averse feel free to omit it.

Can I cook the prawns from frozen?

I never cook prawns from frozen because they reduce the temperature in the pan too much. They can be defrosted in under 5 minutes by placing them in a sieve and running them under cold water.

Close up prawn pasta with squid ink spaghetti fennel and chilli.

Serving Suggestions

This squid ink pasta recipe with shrimp is a simple light meal and I would usually serve it with some bread on the side.

I usually like to griddle a piece of ciabatta that has been drizzled with oil, then scrape it with a garlic clove.

My wife usually insists on some garlic bread, and who am I to argue?

Rather than trying to bulk this recipe out for a heartier meal, I would be much more likely to serve it with a starter.

A soup would be a great option, something like my summer vegetable soup would be ideal.

Prawn pasta with squid ink spaghetti fennel, lime zest and chilli served on a black plate.

Equipment Used

I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • Colander.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Mandolin.
  • Citrus zester.
  • Stirring and serving spoons or tongs.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring and spoons.
Prawn pasta with squid ink spaghetti fennel, lime zest and chilli served on a black plate.
Yield: 2 Servings

Easy Prawn Pasta Recipe with Squid Ink Spaghetti

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes

Bring a bit of bling to your prawn pasta by adding some squid ink spaghetti, then add the classic flavours of chilli, garlic and lemon juice.


  • 1 Small Fennel Bulb
  • 250g (9 oz) Prawns
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 175g (6oz) Squid Ink Spaghetti
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 Tsp Chili Flakes
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt to Taste


  1. Bring a 20cm or 8" saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil. I use 1½ teaspoons of salt in a pan this size.
  2. Remove any tough outer "leaves" from the the fennel bulb and slice it as finely as you can, a mandolin is the best tool for this.
  3. Peel and slice the garlic as finely as you can.
  4. Zest the lemon.
  5. Add the chilli flakes, half the lemon zest, the garlic and half of the olive oil to the prawns and season with a generous pinch of salt.
  6. Add the pasta to the now boiling water and cook for 30-60 seconds less than the packet instructions.
  7. Heat the remaining oil in a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a high heat.
  8. Add the sliced fennel for 3-4 minutes tossing occasionally.
  9. Add in the prawns and then sautee for 5-6 minutes for raw uncooked and 2-4 minutes for parboiled and defrosted prawns.
  10. Drain the pasta reserving around 75ml (⅓ Cup) of the cooking liquid.
  11. Toss the pasta through the prawns and add the remaining lemon zest and the juice of half of the lemon.
  12. Add enough of the cooking liquid to form a nice emulsion and serve sprinkled with fennel fronds if there were some on the fennel bulb.


Of course, you can make this recipe with regular spaghetti, simply cook it al dente exactly as this recipe outlines.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 517Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 264mgSodium: 1503mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 39g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Gina Strauch

Sunday 12th of November 2023

I too really enjoyed this dish, which I made for the first time last night. I added a bit of pinot grigio to the prawns as they were cooking, and a bit of snipped chive garnish, otherwise exactly as written. In summer when tomatoes are in season I'd probably serve with a caprese salad.

Very quick and easy, but no matter how much I try I can never get pasta to swirl like in recipe pictures.

Gina Strauch

Wednesday 15th of November 2023

@Gina Strauch, ....ouch....

Gina Strauch

Monday 13th of November 2023

@Brian Jones, Eating spaghetti with a fork and gauche :)

Brian Jones

Monday 13th of November 2023

Hi Gina...

Glad you enjoyed this, I like this recipe a lot :)

I giggled at your comment about swirling pasta, I spent years going through a phase of trying to emulate restaurant presentation and it took me a while to perfect it. Now my presentation style is a little more chilled and I've probably lost the knack. But essentially I use a meat carving fork and a ladle, it's the same as eating spaghetti with a fork and spoon, but there was much swearing when I was learning how to do it.

Thanks for taking the time to write to me as ever.



Friday 20th of August 2021

This is exquisite, tastes as delicious as it looks. Grazie infinite!

Brian Jones

Saturday 21st of August 2021

Thanks Victoria, so glad you enjoyed it!


Wednesday 7th of November 2018

Just made this and it was absolutely delicious!! I had some squid ink scialatielli that I bought on a recent trip to Italy and it worked beautifully with this recipe. It’s a bit thicker than normal pasta with a bit of a bite to it. I doubled the lemon and garlic and olive oil because I love those. I possibly accidentally put in extra chili flakes as it had a real kick to it....I love heat but I could have held back a bit! And we added some capers just to see if they enhanced it.... it was delicious either way. Thanks so much! A real winner!!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 7th of November 2018

So glad you enjoyed it Anna, I love squid in pasta! I have to say that the levels of chili are so difficult to approach as a recipe writer, it is such a personal thing and all chili flakes will be very different in terms of their punch. I guess you will just have to make it again with less chili, bummer hey, teeheehehehehe.

BTW I can totally see the capers working wonderfully!

Katherine Hackworthy

Thursday 25th of January 2018

This squid ink pasta recipe looks delicious and definitely a must try! This recipe is simple but filled with rich flavors!

Brian Jones

Thursday 25th of January 2018

Thank you so much :)


Thursday 25th of January 2018

I have tried squid ink spaghetti in restaurants and I love it, but I have never made it myself. This looks really easy, so definitely something to try.

Brian Jones

Thursday 25th of January 2018

It certainly is simple, just like any other pasta really although if you over cook it hen it is particularly soggy but cook it right then it is glorious.

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