The best-ever Mediterranean cookbook, 256pp.
by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow
Hermes House, London, 2001
Cooking on page 132
We love Mediterranean cuisine, and this was one of the first cookbooks I bought to cover the variety of dishes being produced in the countries surrounding this beautiful sea. I’m pleased to say that the authors really know their stuff. Together, or independently, Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow, have published almost 30 books covering the recipes of the Mediterranean.
This book’s introduction outlines the basics of the various cuisines and the many wonderful ingredients that are popularly used. The remaining chapters cover the gamut of courses—from appetisers to desserts.
I’ll make the Italian crostini recipe on page 32 soon, but the other day I bought four squid hoods on special, so today I opted for page 132.
Stuffed squid (calamari)
For the stuffing
30ml/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50g/2oz/1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
60ml/4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
115g.4oz halloumi cheese, grated
salt and ground black pepper
4 squid tubes, each about 18cm/7in long
900g/2lb ripe tomatoes
45ml/3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5ml/1 tsp caster sugar
120ml/4fl oz/ 1/2 cup dry white wine
several rosemary sprigs
toasted pine nuts and flat leaf parsley, to garnish
To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, cheese and a little salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly blended.
Dry the squid tubes on kitchen paper and fill with the prepared stuffing using a teaspoon. Secure the ends of the squid tubes with wooden cocktail sticks.
Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Peel away the skins and chop roughly.
Heat the oil in a frying pan or sauté pan. Add the squid and fry on all sides. Remove from the pan.
Add the onion to the pan and fry gently for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar and wine and cook rapidly until the mixture becomes thick and pulpy.
Return the squid to the pan with the rosemary. Cover and cook gently for 30 minutes. Slice the squid and serve on individual plates with the sauce. Scatter over the pine nuts and garnish with parsley. Serves 4.
How it played out
This is the very first time I’ve cooked whole squid tubes. So I followed the recipe mostly to the letter, especially because I know squid gets chewy when not cooked properly.
That said, I threw in a couple of handfuls of baby spinach. I also worried that the final 30-minute cook might be too long. Turns out it wasn’t.
The only fiddly bit was stuffing the actual squid tubes. They had a tendency to flop closed with every spoonful, and I rather wished I had a third hand. I wonder if propping up the tubes in a short drinking glass might make that step a little easier.
I was pleased to see that toothpicks held in the stuffing very well.
Excuse me while I swoon. These were so totally flavoursome and so tender that I feel incredibly smug that I now know how to make them at home.
I’ve had plenty of delicious salt-and-pepper-squid dishes in restaurants, but have never been able to replicate a good enough version at home. This recipe changes all that. It’s a fabulous way to prepare squid and you can bet I’ll be making it every time I can buy suitable squid hoods.
The first time I ate squid (calamari) was many decades ago in a restaurant in Athens Greece. I remember liking the dish, but have no memory of how it was prepared.
It was also the first time I had octopus and the famous Greek beverages—retsina and ouzo. Maybe that’s why I don’t exactly remember how the main dishes were made. 🙂
These days I keep a mental list of favourite dishes from our travels. Here’s a rundown on some amazing food we had in the north of India.