Calamari or squid, along with its friends the cuttlefish and octopus, are much loved in Italy, and are cooked in a variety of ways depending on region and taste. Some squid can be enormous, weighing several kilos each, though you can also find much smaller baby squid (calamaretti). It is great to braise squid in tomato sauce like this, though they are equally delicious cooked with potatoes, stuffed and stewed, simple grilled with lemon, or fried as part of a fritto misto. In Venice the squid ink is used to colour risotto and pasta – a good example of how Italian cooking wastes nothing. Preparing squid is easy once you know how: cut off the tentacles, then feel around on the inside of the squid’s body for a long, plastic-like shard called the ‘quill’ and pull it out. Reserve the silvery ink-sac from the innards to colour the dish later. Peel the purple and white skin from the squid meat. Remove the ‘beak’ from the tentacles – it resembles a small white piece of bone with a hole in the middle. The tentacles and squid body can both be used in cooking.
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
10 g capers
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 small red chilly, finely chopped
1 kg squid, cleaned and chopped into quarters
salt, to taste
50 ml white wine
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
a handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the anchovies and capers, and cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve. Add the garlic and chilli, stir and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the squid, a pinch of salt and stir-fry for a further couple of minutes. Add the wine and boil until evaporates. Add the cherry tomatoes and parsley, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with lots of good bread to mop the sauce.