I’ve had a desire to stuff squid for an eternity now, but never did because I didn’t know how to clean them. We then moved to Charleston, where it was almost impossible to find them, returned to Italy and I was swept up with other culinary adventures. I was reminded while my parents were visiting of my secret wish.
I adjusted the recipe to the food allergies that my family has, my husband’s to shrimp and my mother’s to wheat, substituting ground almonds for both. I know that the shrimp stuffing would have made me swoon, but I really liked the sweetness of the almonds and the texture that they added to it.
I took advantage of the jars of tomatoes that my neighbors had given us, unopened until my parents’ arrival, and now gone. For about a week at the end of August we would find the whole family in their garage, a small trailer of plum tomatoes behind them, working over a large pot of boiling water and hundreds of jars. They canned 700 kilos of tomatoes, enough to last them for 2 years.
Southern Italians are famous for their tomato canning, I remember the beer bottles of tomato sauce in the basement of my host family’s house in Marconia. Nothing tasted as good as those tomatoes, and these were equally as good. I am happy that I spoiled my parents with them.
adapted from Naples at Table, Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz
- 8 medium cleaned squid (about 1.5 pounds)
for the filling:
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1large clove garlic, lightly smashed
- 1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes
- 1/4 lb peeled almonds, ground
- 1/4 cup loosely packed finely chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp salted capers, thoroughly rinsed, chopped if large
- 1/4 gaeta olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
for the sauce:
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large clove garlic, lightly smashed
- 1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes, with all their juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch hot red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp finely cut parsley
Rinse the squid cavities and set aside. Rinse the squid tentacles and chop finely.
In an 8-inch skillet, combine the olive oil, the garlic, and the hot pepper over medium-low heat and cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil a couple of times, until it begins to color. Remove the garlic.
Immediately add the chopped tentacles and the almonds. Sauté over medium heat, tossing constantly, until the shrimp turn pink and the squid has given off its juices. This should take less than 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining filling ingredients, and mix well until all of the liquid from the pan has been absorbed.
Stuff the squid cavities with this filling and, using sturdy toothpicks or short trussing skewers, close up the open end. You should be able to get almost 1/4 cup of filling into each cavity, but you may have a little filling leftover. Set the stuffed squid aside with you start the sauce.
In a 10-inch sauté pan or stovetop casserole, combine the olive oil and garlic over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil a couple of times, until it begins to color. Remove the garlic.
Add the whole can of tomatoes, and with a fork or the side of a wooden spoon, break up and crush the tomatoes to a coarse puree. Add the salt, a pinch of hot red pepper flakes, and the parsley. Let simmer gently but steadily for 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
Add the stuffed squid. They will not be covered in the sauce. Baste them with sauce. Bring the tomato sauce to a gentle but steady simmer. Simmer the squid for 10 minutes, then turn them.
Simmer the squid for 20 to 25 minutes longer, until the cavities are tender and the tomatoes have reduced to a fairly thick sauce.
Serve hot or warm.
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