Stuffed Calamari: the classic Italian recipe for making tender and tasty stuffed squid

Total time: 60 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist
Fresh calamari
Tomato sauce
700 ml
100 g
White wine
50 ml
1 clove
Extra virgin olive oil

Stuffed calamari are an easy and tasty Italian seafood main course, that is also known as Italian-style stuffed squid. It is a great classic of Mediterranean cuisine, as simple as it is appetizing. This recipe is perfect to serve during a family dinner or a special occasion.

The calamari are stuffed with a soft and tasty filling, made with the same tentacles of the mollusk finely chopped and then combined with breadcrumbs, eggs and chopped parsley. Stuffed calamari are then cooked in tomato sauce, for a tender and flawless final result.

Cooking must take place over low heat and observing the right times, in this way the delicate consistency of the molluscs will not be compromised and they will not be rubbery on the palate. For a perfect dish, we suggest you pierce the calamari at the base before stuffing them, to avoid creating an air bubble and the filling does not reach all the way.

The recipe finds its origins in many Italian regions, but today it is a typical Sicilian recipe. The stuffed calamari can be served both hot and cold and prepared according to taste with some variation in cooking and filling. You can even try baking in the oven, but in any case the stuffed calamari is a recipe of sure success. So just follow our step-by-step recipe and tips.

What to serve with Stuffed Calamari

You can serve stuffed calamari with a fresh side salad and crusty bread.

Stuffed Calamari Variations

You can customize the stuffing for calamari according to taste. Each region has its own dish variation for making stuffed calamari. In the Southern Italy, this recipe is usually made with tomato sauce, while in the Northern Italy stuffed calamari are usually made without tomato sauce.

In the Neapolitan recipe, also called calamari ‘mbuttunat, you can add raisins and pine nuts or cherry tomatoes to the filling.

For Sicilian-style stuffed calamari you can add anchovies and in some cases also small pieces of cheese. Halfway through cooking of the stuffed calamari, both in the oven and in the pan, you can add a glass of orange juice.

In the Northern city of Trieste, in the frying pan you can heat up the oil with a minced onion and a tablespoon of flour, and then you can proceed to lay the previously stewed stuffed calamari with the tomato sauce.

In Liguria region, some add previously blanched and dried spinach into the stuffing. You can also create fillings with potatoes, radicchio, peas, artichokes, eggplants, zucchini, basil, mint and many other ingredients: cooking means also creativity.

For grilled stuffed calamari, heat up the barbecue grill for at least 10 minutes. When it's hot, place it high and lay the stuffed calamari for at least 15 minutes. On the same grill, you can simultaneously cook many vegetables to use as a side dish.

Tips for the Best Italian Stuffed Calamari

The calamari sauce can be used to dress pasta.

For an even more decisive final taste, you can also add grated cheese, olives, capers or chili powder to the filling for a touch of pleasant spiciness.

When you put the stuffing, remember to leave some empty space before closing the calamari with a toothpick, otherwise it will overflow.

We can replace the calamari with flying squid or cuttlefish. This means that times and flavors will be different.

We recommend the use of fresh and medium-sized mollusks (many fish shops provide a cleaning service on request, thus avoiding the most annoying passage of this recipe). Otherwise even a frozen product of excellent quality can be a good substitute.

Unlike the cuttlefish, easily distinguishable, the calamari and the flying squid are more similar, in fact they can be recognized according to the position of the wings. In the first case they go from the tip of the tail up to half of the body, while in the second case they are smaller and form a triangle at the top of the mollusk, as if it was an hat.

How to store Stuffed Calamari

Stuffed calamari can be stored in the refrigerator, in a special airtight container, for one day.

You can freeze them, raw or cooked, only if you have used fresh ingredients.

How to make Stuffed Calamari

Making stuffed calamari is easier than you may think. Let's start from cleaning, and then it's cooking time.

How to clean calamari

Clean the calamari. Remove the head and separate the tentacles 1.

Also remove the spine 2.

Remove the skin 3.

Rinse the calamari under cold running water and pat them with absorbent kitchen paper 4.

Transfer the tentacles to a cutting board and chop finely with a knife 5.

Make the stuffing

In a large bowl, mix them with the breadcrumbs and then add the egg 6.

Season with a pinch of salt, the chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Mix everything to obtain a homogeneous mixture 7.

How to stuff calamari

Stuff the calamari using a spoon 8.

The filling must not reach the edge, otherwise it will come out during cooking 9.

Seal the ends with a wooden toothpick 10.

Continue until all the filling is used up 11.

How to cook stuffed calamari

Pour a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil into a large pan and brown the garlic 12.

Arrange the calamari 13 and brown them for a few moments, turning them often.

Prick the calamari with a toothpick to release air and water from the inside 14.

Deglaze the calamari with the white wine 15 and continue cooking.

The wine must evaporate completely 16.

At this point pour the tomato puree 17.

Stir to distribute it evenly, season with salt 18 and add a ladle of hot water.

Cover with the lid and continue cooking for about 45 minutes over low heat. When cooked, flavor with chopped parsley 19.

Serve the stuffed calamari immediately, garnishing the dish with parsley and freshly ground pepper 20.

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