Squid, one of the Adriatic’s most beautiful, elegant yet predacious creatures; mournful enough to make you really think twice about eating it as it sits on an Abruzzo fishmonger’s teasing tray for a Friday treat.
Ripieno, or in English stuffing, is something right across Italy that they do well, whether is beast, fish or fowl or simply ravioli pillows stuffed with walnut & ricotta, those surprise fillings always gives a delicate “yum” accompaniment to the outer folds whatever it may be.
Totani Ripieni or Stuffed Squid is one of my personal frutti di mare favourite recipes; it’s incredibly healthy, very low fat and high in Vitamin B12, but best of all delicious and won’t leave you snacking. You are supposed to use Totani – cuttlefish in this recipe – but I prefer the smaller squid used for calamari to cut down on cooking time. If you have big fingers or get exasperated easily then use cuttlefish as they won’t be so time-consuming to stuff.
This is a variation on a recipe for stuffed squid by US-living Abruzzese cook Anna Calle. It’s taken from her wonderful Food & Memories of Abruzzo cookbook. If you haven’t yet seen it and think a former archaeologist writing a cookbook interesting then this is for you; the stories and anecdotes to growing up in Guardiagrele Abruzzo are superb.
3 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
2 Tablespoons salted capers washed thoroughly
6 Fresh Basil Leaves finely chopped
5 Chives finely chopped
2 teaspoons of Chili Paste
¼ Lemon juice – just give it a squeeze into the stuffing mix
2-3 tablespoons plain fresh breadcrumbs – ideally from crusty bread – per cuttlefish – for calamari mini size allow 1.5 tablespoons per squid.
Freshly ground pepper
180 ml dry white wine
4 Tablespoons of Virgin Olive Oil
Clean your squid/cuttlefish keeping all tentacles. Here’s a video step-by-step if this is a first time job
In a food processor, finely chop the garlic, capers, basil, chili paste & lemon juice. Add breadcrumbs, pepper and tentacles until the mixture is roughly mixed, ensuring that it is rough for texture and NOT a smooth paste. Finely chop the tentacles from the squid and add to the food processor with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a heavy-bottomed frying pan.
Stuff the cleaned squid with your stuffing (ripieni), fastening with toothpicks.
Add the squid into a warm pan – all in 1 layer and fry on a low heat for, turning often for 4 minutes. Pour over the white wine and bring to boiling point, reduce the heat to a simmer, add a lid on top and poach for 25-minutes for calamari and 1 hour if you are using cuttlefish.
Serve on a bed of lettuce, borage leaves and tomatoes.
Total Time = 1 hour