Fried calamari rings are a popular and much loved appetizer in the United States, yet when you want to eat lighter definitely try out a healthier Italian version that is stuffed with herbs and simmered in a fragrant tomato sauce.
It wasn’t until moving to Italy that I ate stuffed calamari. In reality, up until five :: cinque years ago I didn’t even know what whole squid looked like, I just knew that the fried ring variety found on the appetizer list in many restaurants was pretty dang good. Little did I know that I was missing out on a multitude of other delicious variations scarcely found in the states (at least in WA state and in the restaurants I frequented).
In Italy, squid and octopus dishes are abundant. From grilled to baked or boiled to stewed, you can find a multitude of varied recipes that are easy :: facile to make and healthy to eat.
I’ve read in a number of recipes that calamari must either be cooked on high heat for less than 2 minutes or more than 1 hour and that any amount of time in between will yield a chewy meal. I followed the instructions my Italian fish monger gave me, and would like to add that the 20 minute cook time in the red sauce :: sugo produced a perfectly cooked squid that was neither gooey nor rubbery, but tender and firm.
Some people chop the tail into tiny pieces :: pezzettini, cook it for 5 minutes then add it to the stuffing mixture. I, however, attached it with toothpicks to the whole calamari, as the long tentacles add a gourmet appeal to the plated presentation.
This recipe is for two as an appetizer but can easily be turned into a meal by doubling or tripling the portions. Whole calamari is a relatively inexpensive :: economico fish to buy and since the recipe calls for a minimal list of ingredients, it is an affordable seafood dish for entertaining guests (or a hungry husband like Mr. Italicano!)
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 whole calamari, cleaned with tail set aside
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 cup tomato purée
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir until combined then divide the mixture and stuff the calamari leaving a little room at the top.
- Close each calamari with a toothpick. Then take another toothpick and attach the tail to each calamari.
- In a medium skillet over low heat, add the olive oil, heat for 1 minute then add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent, stir often.
- Remove the garlic then add the tomato purée, salt, pepper and calamari. Simmer for 15-20 until the calamari is white and firm and the sauce has thickened. Serve warm.