All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.
Ok – I confess – I just could NOT get a decent shot of this dish. This is becoming a frequent issue – caused, most likely, from my lack of continued inspiration photographically. My lighting & plating options are limited & largely exhausted. I need to start going to yard sales & junk stores & buy up some new cutie little dishes etc to maybe restore the fun of photographing the foods I prepare.
At any rate – this was a really satisfying dish to prepare. I felt like an old Italian mamma in my kitchen, expertly filling squid with stuffing & braising them. Braising, by the way, is defined on Wikipedia like this:
Braising (from the French “braiser”) is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor.
This dish takes a few steps but is well worth it. If you use boxed pasta & jarred sauce – this dish is downright easy!
I found fresh squid at my store the other day, all cleaned & pristine looking, and I got two packages for under three dollars combined. There were probably 20 little squid in there – each only about 3 inches long.
I, personally, preferred the littler guys but you could do this with larger squid & have less work to do with the stuffing of them.
I marinated the squid in garlic, olive oil & lemon overnight – but this is unnecessary. I did that, primarily, because I thought they had an odd smell & I wanted to get rid of that. It wasn’t a smell like they had spoiled or were fishy but, rather, kind of a musky, bleachy scent which I found super gross. The marinade cured that & these guys cooked up as mildly & inoffensively as any squid I’ve ever had.
Also – I used baby kale because that is what I had. You could use regular kale or spinach or broccoli or whatever in the stuffing for these. Other recipes I looked at for this kind of thing suggested a course chop for the shrimp. I opted to puree the whole lot & that resulted in a stuffing mix that could be inserted into the squid with a pastry bag or, as I used, a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off. THIS was a lifesaver! Trying to stuff these fuckers by hand – even with my green puree – was crazy-making so definitely have a zip-lock bag handy.
Also – I only had these foiled sandwich toothpicks around. If you use these, be sure to cut off the plastic fringe with kitchen scissors before cooking the calamari.
Also – I used my 5 Minute Arrabiata Sauce for these. You can do that, too, or use your own favorite red sauce, whether homemade or jarred. I used whole wheat spaghetti from a box
because I really like whole wheat pastas & was too lazy to make fresh pasta. This, too, is open to your interpretation. Make some pasta (I have posted lots of recipes for that) or simply boil up your favorite brand & shape of the boxed variety.
Lastly – definitely buy CLEANED squid. I tried to clean squid once in the late eighties & was scarred emotionally by the experience. It took until this week for me to ever attempt squid again. So – if your grocer has squid in the case but it isn’t cleaned – pay whatever it takes to get them to clean them for you. Trust.
When these little bad boys are cooked up, they are so tight & neat & resilient – you can slice them up with a knife & they do not fall apart.
Braised Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp & Baby Kale Over Whole Wheat Spaghetti
1 lb pasta of your choice
15 -20 little 3″ squid or lesser quantity of larger ones
3/4 lb shrimp – peeled & deveined
6 garlic cloves
2 cups baby kale (or other vegetable like maybe spinach or broccoli or arugula)
3/4 cup panko (or other breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 TBS crushed red pepper
1 TBS dry oregano
6-7 fresh basil leaves
S&P to taste (1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper?)
1 tomato – diced (optional)
Parsley as garnish
Marinara or Arrabiata of your choice
I marinated my squid in a little olive oil, 10 cloves of crushed garlic, the juice of a lemon and some S&P overnight. This is optional.
Prepare your red sauce or simmer your jarred sauce in a large saute pan.
For the stuffing – put any tentacles you might have from the squid into a food processor with the shrimp, garlic, kale, eggs, panko, cheese, crushed red pepper, oregano, basil and S&P & pulse to puree. You might need to scrape the sides a few times.
With either a pastry bag or a large zip-lock bag with one corner cut off – squeeze your puree into each of the squid. Only fill about 2/3 of the way because squid shrinks when it cooks & it will shrink wrap your stuffing quickly & begin to squeeze it out. Secure the open end by simply piercing through with a toothpick. If using fancy tipped toothpicks – cut the fancy part off with kitchen scissors. Pierce each squid once or twice in the fat part with the tip of a sharp knife to vent them as they cook.
I had extra stuffing so I just made little “meatballs” from it.
Heat a frying pan & add 2 TBS olive oil. I used my marinade to sear the squid & you can, too, but know that the garlic burns a bit. When hot, place the calamari in there & sear them a bit all over, on high heat, until they begin to brown. Remove from heat. You can sear your “meatballs” in this process, too.
When your red sauce is ready, place the seared calamari into that pan. I added a little water to my sauce to thin it but that is just a matter of taste. I also added 1 diced tomato. Cook for about 15 minutes over low to medium-low heat without disturbing them. Then turn them & cook another 15 minutes. If you have extra stuffing “meatballs, add them to the pan for the second 15 minutes.
Cook your pasta & serve it smothered in your red sauce & evenly distribute your stuffed squid. Remove the toothpicks! Garnish with chopped parsley & maybe extra crushed red pepper.