Stuffed Calamari


Italians love calamari (squid) and there are so many ways to prepare them – in salads, pasta sauces, grilled, fried, or baked and stuffed.  As a child I remember its only value was its use as fish bait.  Although fried calamari are great, I’m glad to see that other calamari dishes have grown in popularity.

This recipe is easy to prepare for the most part, but making stuffed calamari can be a little tricky.  You must use large squid for this recipe. Squid will shrink considerably while cooking, so small squid will not work.  If you add too much filling, they will burst open while baking.  Be careful not to overcook them or they will become tough and rubbery.

 (Calamari Ripieni)

Difficulty Rating:  Intermediate
Makes 4 servings.

8 large squid
1 1/4 cups plain dry bread crumbs
6 tablespoons olive oil divided, plus 1/2 cup
3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/3 cup finely minced onion
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper
Olive oil
Wood toothpicks

CLEAN THE SQUID:  Remove the heads and inner organs from the squid.  It should come off in one piece as you pull the head out.  Cut off the tentacles and discard the rest.  Use a paper towel to dry the tentacles.  Chop finely and set aside.  Remove and discard the thin outer skin and inner transparent cartilage from the body of the squid, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

PREPARE THE FILLING:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over low heat.  Add the breadcrumbs and cook stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until lightly toasted, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wipe down the skillet.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over low heat.  Add onion, and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer, until garlic starts to color.  Place into the bowl with the bread crumbs.  Add the grated cheese and parsley, and mix well.  Set aside 3/4 cup of the bread crumb mixture in a shallow bowl.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add the tentacles and mushrooms.  Saute for approximately 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Stir into the remaining bread crumb mixture.

STUFF AND BAKE SQUID:  Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
Using a teaspoon, lightly stuff each squid with approximately 3 to 4 teaspoons of the breadcrumb mixture.  Be careful not to over stuff the squid or they will burst open while baking.  Place the stuffing in the middle of the cavity, leaving the end and opening empty.  Secure the open end, about 1/2-inch down, with a toothpick to close. Place the ½ cup of olive oil in a shallow bowl.  Coat the squid first in olive oil and then coat lightly in the reserve breadcrumbs.  Place into baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes, until tender.  Remove toothpicks before serving.  Serve with lemon wedges.

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