A blast from Halloween past: Our first newspaper food feature.
We featured the classic Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (of course), and long strands of black spaghetti, twisted into nests with camembert and pumpkin seed pesto.
To start, the ever ghoulish looking tapenade on toast points.
To end, Heart of Darkness Molten Chocolate Cakes, served with flaming shots of Sambuca.
For the gothic gourmet, Halloween holds much more than jack-o’-lantern cheese squares grinning up from hamburger patties.
There are many books and countless websites devoted to revolting hobgoblin fare. Worm and dirt spaghetti, brain Jell-O and witchy chicken fingers dipped in ketchup blood are macabre mainstays for wee ghosts and goblins.
For the rest of us, it’s easy to grow weary of last-minute costumes thrown together for keg-fuelled kitchen parties. Somewhere along the way, we’ve outgrown the buffet table gore of hard-boiled egg eyeballs and kitty litter cake.
For those who still adore the night of the undead, there are grown-up ways to celebrate the spirit of the occasion.
This year, it’s time for a sophisticated Halloween howler; a dinner party that’s light on dollar store gags and dripping with so much style, it’s scary.
Halloween menus aspire to reach festive heights, but disappointingly turn out to be average weekday food decorated with spider cutouts or disguised in gross-out names — hence Vomit Vinegarette or any ground beef casserole with olives from a can.
For a cupcake- and candy-fuelled holiday eaten up by kids, the real essence of Halloween is decidedly grown up and nightmarish. You’d better have a drink.
The menu here is representative of the true, dark spirit of Halloween. How better to ward off vampires than by serving chicken with 40 cloves of garlic? Black pasta with pumpkin seed pesto can only be truly appreciated on Oct. 31.
With planning and advance preparation, this Halloween dinner can be dead easy. Heart of Darkness Molten Cakes and Pumpkin Seed Pesto can be prepared days in advance. Store-bought tapenade cuts another corner.
Paired with classic horror films, such as Night of the Living Dead or The Shining, and morning-after garlic breath, this is sure to be one scary night.
Squid ink turns this spaghetti darker than the inside of a coffin. We found ours at Mercato Italian market.
Make the pesto a few days ahead to save time.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
1 bunch fresh basil
1 small clove garlic
1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (75 mL) toasted pumpkin seeds, shelled
1/4 cup (50 mL) grated Parmigiano cheese
1 pinch nutmeg, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
In a food processor, whirl basil, pumpkin seeds, cheese, seasonings and garlic together. Add oil in a slow stream.
Black Pasta Nests
Boil 1/2 package of squid ink pasta until al dente, then drain. Return pasta to pot and stir in half of a small round of brie or camembert, rind removed.
Add 1/4 cup (50 mL) of pesto. Stir until pesto and cheese have coated the pasta.
Twirl pasta around a large fork and carefully place in a muffin tin. Repeat until you have six.
Let stand a minute or two until noodle nests hold their shape. Use two forks or spoons to remove and place on warmed serving plates. Top with another dollop of pesto and sprinkle with extra pumpkin seeds. Serves 6.