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Grilled Stuffed Squid (Calamari Imbottiti alla Griglia)

Calamari, or squid, belong to the family of cephalopods that in Italy includes meaty seppie, or cuttlefish; polpo, or octopus; and moscardini, tiny octopus with tightly curled tentacles. Squid are the most versatile members of the family. They can be deep-fried, boiled quickly and tossed with lemon juice and olive oil for a seafood salad, cooked with tomatoes and garlic for a pasta sauce, roasted or grilled.

Ingredients:

  • 8 squid, each 6 to 8 inches long
  • 1 cup fine dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz. cooked ham, cut into narrow strips
  • 1 Tbs. raisins
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Directions:

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a broiler.

To prepare each squid, gently pull the head and tentacles away from the body. Cut off the tentacles just above the eyes; discard the lower portion. Squeeze the base of the tentacles to extract the hard, round beak. Squeeze the viscera out of the body and pull out the long, plasticlike quill. Cut a small slit in the pointed end of the body sac and rinse to eliminate any sand. Rinse the tentacles, drain and pat dry.

In a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Set aside 1/4 cup on a plate. Add the ham, raisins and garlic to the bowl with the remaining crumbs and stir to combine. Stuff the mixture loosely into the body sacs. Tuck a set of tentacles into each sac and secure the top with a toothpick. Roll each squid in the reserved crumbs to coat evenly.

Place the squid on the grill rack or on a broiler pan. Grill or broil, turning once, until opaque and lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer the squid to a warmed platter and serve with lemon slices. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).