Hello again, and happy Monday morning. It’s hard to get started after such a warm, food-filled weekend as ours, so I’ll wallow for a minute or two, in what we ate which so soothed our tired urban souls. Then perhaps, I’ll be able to wrap myself around work and To-Do and things that are slightly less gratifying than cooking and eating in famiglia.
Saturday night, we treated ourselves to stuffed calamari, a rather labor-intensive dish Lidia Bastianich presented on MasterChef Italy. The woman knows what she’s doing (even though her rather extensive commercial empire is a bit off-putting. It’s hard to square that degree of mass-market success with authentic, home-cooking, but she’s warm and engaging and her food—at least this dish—does not disappoint). Our version is less precise, thrown together with intuition and dash. But it’s delicious and satisfying and worth the effort. Here’s the recipe as she presented it:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. / 395 degrees F.
Ingredients for 2 calamari
(We make 8 small-medium sized ones for a family of 4, and adjust all the quantities accordingly):
2 medium sized calamari
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 white onion (we use lots, we love onion), chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
thyme q.b. (=quanto basta, i.e. to taste, whatever seems right)
half glass of white wine
100 g breadcrumbs (a handful or so, again, q.b.)
1. Clean the calamari (see above), removing the innards, the non-edible parts of the head and the quill, or pen. Remove the fins and the long tentacles, chopping them into small bits, and setting them aside. Dry the cleaned, tubular squid bodies and set aside along with the lower portion of the head and the small tentacles.
2. In olive oil, sauté the chopped onion, shallot and garlic. When the onion is translucent, add chopped parsley, thyme and peperoncino to taste.
3. Add the small calamari bits (the chopped long tentacles and the fins), and finish with the 1/2 cup of wine, which should give a satisfying sizzle and disappear in a cloud of vapor when it hits the pan!
4. Remove from the flame and mix with the waiting bread crumbs. If your mixture seems overly dry to you, add a little olive oil, or water.
5. Stuff each empty calamaro body with the mixture, and reunite it with its head/tentacles. Sprinkle any filling that remains over and around the squids. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and place in a preheated oven for 10 minutes.
What emerges is tender and savory and delicious. Drizzle with a little olive oil if you wish, before serving. NOTE: Overcooked calamari will become tough, so observe cooking time with care.
I couldn’t resist snapping one last image. Do you know what these things are? These delicate, clear “quills” come out of the skid’s little body. I find them beyond amazing. When you hold them in your hand, they feel like very thin plastic, and they are perfectly translucent. What a constant amazement nature is! Humbling.