Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Stuffed Calamari -McGrath Style

This dish is one of my all time favourites and if you are a calamari lover like we are, then I can assure you it will be a dinner party success. Now I warn you, this is not a 10-minute recipe, but nonetheless it is still easy to make - it just takes a bit of love and patience. I call it  'Stuffed Calamari McGrath Style' because while there will be other great versions on the web, this is how I like to cook mine.

For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:

Large calamari - whole ones (I would say that one large can be over 30cm long ... so one is enough for two people depending on how hungry you are!!)

The calamari need to be cleaned, the heads need to be removed (just chop them off) but don't throw away the tentacles, as we will need them later. Clean thoroughly and remove the spine, etc. If you bought the pre-cleaned ones make sure they are closed on one end so you may stuff them ...

Ingredients for the sauce:

1 1/2 large red onions cut thinly into moon shape
2 cans of fresh chopped tomatoes
Olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 pinch of sodium bicarbonate -(I will eventually have a whole posting on why I use it).....

Okay now for the stuffing - this is what makes you lick your fingers at the end!!!

Ingredients for the stuffing:

1 cup of breadcrumbs - just the plain ones (not with anything added as it might change the flavor)
1 large bunch of basil- fresh
2 garlic cloves - the nice big ones
2 anchovies - you don't have to drain the oil
5-6 capers - the ones that are salted (some come in vinegar don't use those)
100 g parmigiano cheese, grated - when buying makes sure it's either Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano (please don't use that stuff that last for ever and comes in a sealed bag, as it's not real parmigiano and taste funny)
1 teaspoon of pine nuts
Olive oil
Salt and pepper for taste flavor (remember the anchovies and capers will naturally make it salty)
2 eggs whole, raw
Chilli flakes - you can add some if you like.
Calamari tentacles- the left over ones from cleaning the calamari (however many doesn't matter)

This should make enough stuffing for 3 calamari but add ingredients as you wish...

Put all of the above ingredients for the stuffing in the mixer and mix. Slowly add the olive oil as you have the mixture in the mixer so it becomes nice and thick. The stuffing should be compact and the flavor should be strong and resemble that of a pesto.

Now stuff your clean calamari with the stuffing, but don't over stuff because they shrink when you cook them - stuff them just enough!!!

Take a toothpick and close the calamari so the stuffing doesn't over spill when you cook it...some will spill but that is what will make your sauce amazing!!!

Okay so now you are done with the stuffing and you should have 2-3 or however many calamari you are making...

For cooking these I like to use a large pot or even a frying pan is good as long as it is a bit deep and has a lid...

Now put olive oil in the pan at about a 7 high, not too low because you want the onions to brown and become soft...
Add your red onions- wait until they slightly brown and become soft
Then add the 2 tins of fresh chopped tomatoes...stir for about 3 minutes...
Now to make the tomatoes sweet and take that tin acid flavor out put a tea spoon of sugar and a pinch of sodium bicarbonate...

Your sauce should foam a bit, not much...this is good, it means you have taken all the acidity out of the sauce and now your sauce is neutral and your other flavors will mix perfectly.

Lower the heat to about a 5-6 or so

Place all of the calamari in the pan, even if they look like they are tight (remember they shrink)...
If you have any more left over tentacles throw those in...
Now it's the magic touch add about half a wine of glass in, preferably white but hey if you have red that's fine too... I add white because that is what I was drinking and generally white wine is better with seafood...
Now get some of the sauce that is at the bottom and cover the calamari with it...
That's it...now you just have to wait for the calamari to cook in a low medium heat, but not too low of a temperature...
The magic will happen, as the stuffing will slowly start to seep out, which is what makes the sauce flavorful...
Check the calamari after 10 minutes as the cooking time depends on how many you have in the pot...
When you feel the consistency is firm you are done...it takes no more than 20 minutes...
(I like to add a bit of garlic salt at the end but that is just because I'm addicted to it...lol)
Have a taste and if you feel your sauce needs more salt, pepper or chili go for it, hey every palate is different!!!!

I like to serve this dish with basmati rice.



  1. Oh this sounds delicious, I think I will try it out on the family first before testing on my dinner party guests. Congrats on your blog site and I look forward to trying out your fabulous recipes x

  2. Hmm i cant wait to try this...it sounds fantastic.

  3. I am going shopping tomorrow for the ingredients. We cannot wait to try this.Hope this goes really well for you sara and good- luck

  4. Great to see a fellow Italian posting some tasty seafood recipes. Well done, I will definitely be cooking this one. Will let you know what I think of it. My Mum used to cook stuffed calamari but unfortunately I don't have her recipe so I'm grateful for yours.

    Good Luck with your blog.


    Connie Alifano

  5. Cooking is such a wonderful way to talk to your family. Whether they are in the kitchen just looking at when dinner will be ready. Or just to find you in one place for a length of time to chat. I find this is a time my kids come and talk to me.It is good for the soul as all love and care goes into cooking for the ones you love. Thankyou for the recipe. Take care Pepe x

  6. Sounds delicious will definately give this a go it's a must

    Thanks for sharing

    Sue in Perth

  7. Thank you everyone for your lovely and generous comments. I'm very excited to see how my recipes work for you, please let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy them as much as we do. Love Sara

  8. I'm finding it very difficult to read the script over the photos. Can you change the colour?

  9. Yes,I did it.Stuffed calamari,it was great, hubby loved it and the recipe was easy to follow, [even for me].Thank-you Sara and well done for this new blog. Sue.