There’s definitely a surplus of sauce in this upcoming recipe. Not a bad thing, but just take note. I’ve reserved mine, but you can use it at the same meal by serving it over whatever you prefer to consume as noodles — spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, rice noodles, white yam noodles — or just regular spaghetti.
PS, this recipe is gluten-free — if you choose to serve the sauce and stuffed calamari over wheat pasta, that’s your choice. But this recipe itself isn’t going there.
This is the first time I went with an extended cooking time on squid, Squid is typically very tender if cooked (pan fried or boiled) for about a minute and a half — then it tightens up to a tough knot. You know, that “rubber band” thing. However, extended cooking will loosen the musculature and you go back to having a tender and edible piece of squid again.
If you plan on stuffing the body, you will need to use that extended cooking time to cook up the entire stuffed creation.
I used calamari bodies (“tubes”) about 4-6 inches long — the longer the better. Try to get an equal number of tentacles at the same time. (Unless you are squeamish about them.)
Mine were already pretty much cleaned up — but if you have to clean them yourself, do reserve the ink for another dish. I’ll describe that process in another post, but these ones came cleaned, with most of the cartiladge removed, but with the heads and tentacles still attached to the body (except for the two which were alas missing their tentacles). Gently pull the head and tentacles from the body, and save the tentacles. The inner bits of the head — almost tentacle-like in themselves — can also be eaten, but look for cartilage. (This cartilage is reminiscent of clear plastic.)
If yours still has a skin layer on — it will be squid-purple in sections – this is edible and I leave it on. There’s no taste change. But some folks like their calamari totally white, it’s just a matter of visual preference. The skin was removed from mine prior to purchase.
So, let’s begin:
Prep Time: 20 minutes, as some can occur while other parts are cooking
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Rest Time: Nada
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as appetizers.
BAKED STUFFED SQUID WITH ONION, MUSHROOM, SPINACH, SERVED IN A TOMATO SAUCE
Squid and Stuffing:
4 squid bodies, preferably 4-6 inches long (6 being better), cleaned, heads and tentacles removed, side fins removed.
Tentacles and side fins from above, diced into small pieces.
A little pat or two of butter.
1 small-medium onion, diced.
2 large baby bella mushrooms (or 4 normal-sized button mushrooms), diced.
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained through a sieve. (This is one half of a 10 ounce pack.)
1 medium sized bulb of Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke) OR about 3 water chestnuts, OR a quarter stalk of celery, diced.
1 large clove garlic, smashed. Add more at your discretion.
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder — adjust to taste
salt and pepper to taste.
For the Tomato Sauce:
10 ounces tomato sauce (preferably home-made, but find one with healthy ingredients sold in glass jars otherwise — some commercial ones have that horrid metallic taste and have lots of sugar added…)
Excess stuffing material from above.
1/2 teaspoon basil, or better yet, several fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped.
Up to 1/2 teaspoon more oregano
Up to 1/2 teaspoon more chipotle powder — adjust to taste
salt and pepper (and more garlic) to taste.
Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Saute the onions in the butter, mid heat range until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook for another five, or until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add the drained spinach and saute in all the spices, another five minutes. Remove from heat.
Add the tentacle and fin pieces, and the Jerusalem artichoke/water chestnut/celery option — this will provide a little crunch. Mix together.
Stuff your cleaned squid bodies. You will have more stuffing material than you need, not to worry. Use 2-4 teaspoons worth and DO NOT OVERSTUFF — squid will shrink when cooking. You may need to use a narrow blunt object to push some stuffing down to the tail end of some of your squid if you have six-inch calamari bodies. Anyhow, judge by the amount of “stuffiness” I have in the below photo.
Use toothpicks to close the open ends of the squid bodies.
Make the tomato sauce for the calamari… add the sauce to remaining stuffing, and add additional spices from the list above. Mix.
Pour over the calamari, and place in oven. Cook at 375 F for 35 minutes.
Remove and serve. I reserved the extra sauce for future cooking ventures, but an ideal thing would be to prep up some noodle-ish things (zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash noodles, white yam noodles, rice noodles…) and serve the sauce AND the stuffed calamari over the top.
I didn’t do that, because this ended up being my brunch on a rather busy and distracted Sunday!
One final note: If you have leftover stuffed squid for a future date – DO NOT NUKE THEM IN A MICROWAVE. This will be Messy to say the least. (No, I didn’t try to do this — I rather figure this to be something no one wants to clean up after…) I was fine with re-heating in the oven at 375 F for about ten minutes.