A Halloween party food idea, featuring black spaghetti and meat sauce made to look like swamp monster spaghetti!
MAKE-AHEAD MAKES HALLOWEEN BETTER
If you are hosting a Halloween party this fall, this is swamp monster spaghetti is a recipe you are going to want to get under your belt. The bulk of the work can be done in advance, it is crowd-pleasing and absolutely, perfectly spooky looking.
When I am entertaining, the more food I can get done in advance, the better. And this recipe is an excellent make-ahead dish, as bolognese (meat sauce in marinara) tends to get better overnight in the fridge. You would simply make the sauce the day before, or even up to a month in advance (it freezes well, also – bonus) and then just before your guests arrive, have ready a boiling pot of water and drop in the spaghetti. However, I wouldn’t advise making the noodles in advance, as they tend to dry out and get a bit sticky come the next day.
CROWD-PLEASING HALLOWEEN DISH FOR ALL AGES
Aside from being make-ahead, swamp monster spaghetti and meat sauce is a crowd-pleasing food for both young children and adults. I don’t know about your house, but in The Anthony Kitchen, spaghetti night is a real treat for this mom. Not just because I wholeheartedly love it, and have since I was a very small child, but because I know it is going to be a night free of whining and complaining at the dinner table. My kids can be picky eaters, and dinnertime can get a little tough, but almost all kids love spaghetti, and I just can’t imagine there are many adults out there opposed to this Italian classic either. That being said, I think it’s safe to say you can count on this dish to go over well amongst the guests at your Halloween party.
HOW TO TURN SPAGHETTI BLACK:
Now for the fun part – turning it into swamp monster spaghetti! I don’t know who the original genius behind this Halloween dish is, but thank you whoever you are. Not only is it easy to do, but it is SO FUN to watch! The black spaghetti is dyed via the addition of black gel food coloring.
You simply bring the water to a boil, add a 1/2 teaspoon of food coloring to the pot, followed by the spaghetti. If you have little ones, I suggest you bring them on board to watch this, because even I, as a grown woman, was mesmerized by the hocus pocus fun of black, boiling water. And, we aren’t talking a grey-ish black here, we are talking deep, dark, jet black water!
MAKING IT SWAMP MONSTER SPAGHETTI:
To make the swamp monster spaghetti look like the infamous swamp thing, you’ll need to enlist a few sliced green olives. I prefer to buy them whole (stuffed with pimentos) and slice them myself so that I am guaranteed just the right thickness for eyes that really pop.
To get the full look, and make the swamp monster look like it has legs, you’ll need a large, glass, footed cake stand (at least 9″ in diameter) and a spider pumpkin stand. You could also use a large, glass plate or a food-safe charger to plate the spaghetti. Once the set up is in place, add the spaghetti, followed by a mound of the meat sauce and as many sets of “olive eyes” as desired.
This dish is absolutely perfect for a Halloween party or a festive family dinner before a big night of trick-or-treating fun! And if you’re looking for an appetizer to kick things off, you might want to try Dead Man’s Fingers with a trio of party dips like Mummy Mush, Dracula’s Bloody Stew, and Lizard Brew! These dips sound horrible, but they’re actually to die for. Or, you could add a little something sweet, yet equally spooky to the mix, with these chocolate crinkle Cyclops cookies. Don’t worry. They taste better than they look.
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- 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 3 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt separated
- 2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper separated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper seeded, stemmed and finely diced
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 large 28 ounces can crushed tomatoes
- 1 small 14 ounces can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Salt for pasta water
- 1 pound dried spaghetti
- 1/2 teaspoon black gel food coloring
- 1/3 cup whole pimento-stuffed green olives
Have ready a colander placed in the sink, heavily lined with paper towels.
Add the ground beef to a Dutch oven or a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper, and break apart with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook the beef until completely browned, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Cut off the heat. Transfer the cooked beef to the colander, pressing out any excess grease. Carefully, wipe down the inside of the Dutch oven, and any drippings on the outside as well.
Add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and maintain a slow simmer with the lid ajar for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.
Return to the stovetop, increase heat to medium and add olive oil. Allow the oil to come to temperature, and add the onions and peppers. Sauté about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more.
place a large pot of heavily salted, boiling water over high heat. Stir in the food coloring, and add the noodles. Cook according to package directions and strain well. Transfer the spaghetti to a serving platter, and top with meat sauce. Cut the olives into thick slices and place in pairs across the top of the sauce. Serve and enjoy.