I don't cook squid very often, in fact I go for months at a stretch without eating it or even thinking about it. But on a wander through Uwajimaya this week I was drawn to the seafood case and zeroed in on the tray of squid. I saw the array of glistening cephalopods, lined up soldierlike in precise formation, and my brain first registered "Wow! they look good", followed by "seafood-for-two priced under $3.00!" Eight large squid were selected, weighed and wrapped in record time and then joined the baby bok choy, lemongrass, kim chee and pickled ginger already in my cart.
I usually buy calamari steaks and prepare them piccata-style with a lemon caper sauce. But this batch of squid was simmered in a Mediterranean manner, stuffed and nestled in a tomato sauce. Served with quinoa and bacon/balsamic green beans, the savory stuffed squid dinner rated two thumbs up.
Cephalopods have arms/tentacles attached to their head with a body/mantle trailing behind, not to mention changeable colors and an ink-jet defense system. I think Nature had a sense of humor when creating the squid.
Cleaning squid is time-consuming, but simple. First step - separate the body parts. Discard the head, finely chop the tentacles and clean out the mantle.
Dice the stuffing ingredients and place in a bowl. This stuffing mix included chorizo, onion, Italian parsley and a mixture of cheeses.
Add the chopped tentacles, some capers, bread crumbs, pine nuts, garlic and a beaten egg. Mix until well blended.
The fun really begins with forcing the stuffing mix into those flexible tubes. It helps to put the stuffing into a plastic zip-loc bag, snip off one corner, and pipe the mixture into the body. The use of fingers is recommended to help fill the squid tube. Caution: stuff the tube lightly, or it might split during cooking.
Secure the open end with a small skewer or a toothpick. Add a thin coating of spaghetti sauce to the baking pan or dish, and arrange the squid on top.
Top the squid with the remaining sauce. Cover the pan with foil and bake.
Cooked stuffed squid look pretty good right out of the oven.
Savory Stuffed Squid
8 large squid bodies 5 or 6 inches long, cleaned and tentacles reserved
scant 1/4 pound of diced sausage (chorizo, hot Italian, linguica, etc)
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 cup cheese, finely diced, grated or crumbled (parmesan, feta, etc)
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
1 small jar of prepared spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup of wine or chicken stock
Optional garnish: parsley, basil, lemon zest, grated parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 350 f. Use an ovenproof pan or baking dish that will hold the squid in one layer.
- Keep the squid bodies whole but chop the tentacles into small dice. Place the tentacle bits in a medium bowl.
- Chop the sausage, onion, parsley and cheese into small dice and add to the bowl.
- Add the next seven ingredients (onion through egg) and mix to combine thoroughly.
- Using a zip-loc bag, spoon or fingers, loosely fill the squid bodies until they are almost full. The squid tube will shrink as it cooks and could split if overstuffed or packed too tightly. Close the opening with a skewer or toothpick.
- Combine the spaghetti sauce and wine; stir to mix. Spoon a scant layer of sauce over the bottom of the cooking pan or dish. Arrange the stuffed squid in a single layer on top of the sauce, then cover the squid with the remaining sauce.
- Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- Serve and garnish with parsley, basil leaves and/or lemon zest.
Serves 2 to 4