Don’t worry about chewy squid, there’s none of that here. This Sicilian-style stuffed squid has a delicious chard, pine nut, raisin and cheese stuffing with just enough bite from the anchovy & capers. It’s easy to make and completely delicious.
Despite the fact we often have calamari as an appetizer when we are out I don’t cook it at home much. I’ve cooked squid in paella and similar dishes like fideua and arros negre many times. I’ve also made calamari in a light batter now and then but I’ve never cooked it whole, until now.
I’m so glad I did, though, as this stuffed squid was really delicious. The squid is so tender baked liked this and the filling is a wonderful combination of flavors. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever had squid with so much flavor.
Squid: a Mediterranean favorite
Squid, or calamari as it’s called in Italian, is such a Mediterranean thing to me and I have many memories of enjoying it, usually lightly battered and fried both in Europe and here. Served simply with plenty lemon juice it can be so delicious. My son is starting to become a fan, too.
It’s a much more flexible ingredient than just something to be fried, though – it’s common in paella, fideua and is great in fish stews. You can even add it to salads like my calamari salad with avocado and fennel. But it can also be a star in its own right as is definitely the case in this stuffed squid dish.
I know it may not appeal to all, but it’s the sort of dish that looks pretty impressive so would make a nice dinner-party dish. The flavors are mild but distinct and they all work so well together.
You could also reduce the serving size and have as an appetizer eg with salad, but squid is generally cheaper than many fish so it’s still pretty economical. And there are no bones!
How it’s made
I looked at many recipes as I was deciding how to make this dish, and was most inspired by this one which I have used as a base. The stuffing doesn’t take too long to make and is a collection of very typical Sicilian ingredients – many of them are in other dishes like the pasta con sarde a mare I shared before. You simply soften the onion, garlic and chard stalks then wilt the chard leaves. Melt the anchovies into the mix then stir through the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Stuff the squid and bake with the extra stuffing on the side.
We loved this Sicilian-style stuffed squid instantly and have already shared it with others, too. The delicate flavors from the cheese, chard, pine nuts and raisins with just enough ‘bite’ from the anchovies and capers complement the squid so well. It’s pretty easy to make and doesn’t take too long either. The fact you can eat every last bit is a bonus too. If you are worried about the squid being tough don’t be – this way of cooking made it come out a wonderful texture that’s not chewy at all.
So get down to your local fish shop (or if you don’t have one, many Asian supermarkets carry squid) and get some squid to give this tasty dish a go.
A delicious Sicilian way of preparing squid that's so tender and full of flavor.
- 1 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 5 oz chard 140g, weight including stems, around 5 leaves
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds crushed with a pestle and mortar
- 3 tbsp pine nuts lightly toasted if possible (not essential)
- 3 tbsp golden raisins or sultanas
- 2 tbsp pecorino romano 7g, finely grated, or parmesan cheese
- 1 oz fresh bread crumbs 30g, 1 small slice
- 4 squid cleaned, skins removed etc (ask your fishmonger) so you have the main body plus the tentacles, or 6 if small
- To serve - fresh parsley, lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
Warm the oil in a medium skillet/frying pan. Finely dice the onion and crush or finely dice the garlic. Remove the stems from the chard, trim the ends then finely slice the stems, cutting into smaller pieces if thick.
Add the onion to the pan, cook a minute then add the garlic and chard stalks. Cook for around 3-5 minutes until soft but not brown.
Meanwhile chop the chard leaves fairly finely and slice the anchovy fillets. Drain, rinse and chop the capers. Add the chard leaves to the pan once onions are soft, stir in so they wilt, around a minute or two. Add the anchovies, capers and fennel seeds and mix in well.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add the pine nuts, golden raisins, cheese and breadcrumbs and mix well. Note this filling can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.
Stuff each of the squid relatively full but take care not to overstuff - leave around 1/2in/1cm space at the end.
Place the stuffed squid in a baking dish with a little olive oil under them. Arrange the tentacles on either side and cover them with any remaining stuffing over them. Put a little salt and pepper over everything and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Bake for approx 20 minutes until the squid has firmed up, is no longer translucent and you'll see juice from the squid in the dish. Serve with a little chopped parsley over the top and a squeeze of lemon. Nice served with pasta, bread, salad or on their own.
Try these other Mediterranean dishes:
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