Scary Halloween Pasta

J — This Halloween-themed pasta scares someone every year.

It is so freaky looking that one year a friend of mine wouldn’t eat it. An adult friend of mine! What is it about simulated bloody bits and bone fragments and squiggly black entrails that freaks people out? Oh well, more for me.

This all got started one year at the time of an annual neighborhood Halloween party … you know, the obligatory gotta-get-a-costume, potluck, gift-exchange event. At least, that’s what it felt like, until I and some others livened it up.

First, the costumes needed to be spiced up and still remain a little kid-friendly. So, we got creative with double-meaning names and visual sleight of hand. Next came the gifts. Same thing here. The funnier and somewhat raunchier the better.

Lastly, the potluck had to breakout from the usual food. This is where my recipe came in. It was a hit, so I make it every year. And, every year, my adult friend won’t eat it and someone else gets freaked out. Go figure. But, there’s never any left over.

Scary Halloween Pasta
Recipe type: Mains
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips vertically
  • 1-inch hand-full of squid-ink spaghetti, about 4 ounces
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, whole
  • 3 small cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 4 tsp salt, divided
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Crumbled goat cheese (for brains) (optional)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  1. Lay chicken thighs flat and season one side with salt and pepper
  2. Heat water in a large pot to a boil with 3 tsp salt. Add red pepper and blanch for no more than 2 minutes. Remove and shock to cool in an ice-water bath. Reserve blanching water for cooking pasta.
  3. Heat chicken stock in a large saute pan to a boil. Add garlic, thyme, remainder of salt and ground black pepper.
  4. Add chicken thighs and reduce to a simmer. Poach for about 15 minutes. Turn chicken halfway through poaching.
  5. Reheat blanching water to a boil. Cook pasta for about 90% of recommended time.
  6. Remove chicken and let cool. Slice into strips with the grain.
  7. Remove thyme sprigs and reduce stock on high to about ¾ cup.
  8. Add red pepper and chicken. Reheat and mix with stock. Stir in cayenne.
  9. When pasta is 90% done, remove noodles directly from cooking water into saute pan. Stir into chicken mixture.
  10. Heat entire mixture and stir well. Add a bit of cooking water if too dry. Pasta will finish cooking and absorb flavors.
  11. Correct salt and pepper. Add more cayenne to taste, if desired.
  12. Serve in individual bowls. Top with optional goat-cheese “brains”
  13. Enjoy!


So, have a scary good time this Halloween. Boo! Yum!