Stuffed calamari: A recipe in notes and drawings

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)
prezzemolo, q.b.
peperoncino, q.b.
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.


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16 Responses to Stuffed calamari: A recipe in notes and drawings

  1. I would say you can cook just like Lidia! ( Now say her famous saying in Italian ….(which I can’t)…something about join us at the table….)

  2. Janette Gross says:

    Even though I read this at breakfast time, it still looked wonderful! I especially love your drawings.
    I wonder if you can dry those quills and do something with them?

    • I don’t know, but they are absolutely amazing. When you take them out of the squid they are just perfect, amazing, smooth, plasticky things. After a day of drying, I noticed that they were slightly more brittle and a little yellowed, as you saw them in the picture. No odor at all. Amazing stuff.

  3. jodifritch says:

    Reblogged this on All About Jodi and commented:
    I just saw Lydia Bastianich make these on television. I absolutely can’t wait to give them a try.

  4. Kiki says:

    St Petersburg.

  5. Bud Finocchiaro says:

    It is squid cartilage found in the squid when you are cleaning it.

    • Yes sir! We have a winner!!! Weird, aren’t they? I love them. They almost seem to be made of plastic.

      • Bud says:

        Just finished making stuffed squid but they were already cleaned….got them from our friend in Sea Isle City New Jersey that owns a fish market called Mike’s. The tradition goes all the way back to our grandfathers who were friends and each year Mike would supply us with all we needed for the Seven Fish Dinner (which is happening tonight)…..but since my parents are both gone, it is going on tonight in their honor.

      • It sounds like a spectacular meal. Clearly, so much love going into the preparation of it. And so many memories in every bite. Have a lovely holiday. And let me know how it goes! (What are the other six “fishes”? I am a big fish-eater, so vicariously imagining…)

      • Bud says:

        We alter the fishes depending on what Mike provides us with… smelts, squid which will be fried & stuffed in gravy…fried whiting, flounder, shrimp (fried & steamed) clams, pasta with crabs and for the non fish eaters….eggplant parm.., pasta with….it is insane for sure.

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