Baked squid stuffed with rice and herbs and baked in a tomato sauce.
Καλαμάρια γεμιστά με ρύζι. Greek stuffed calamari is a spectacular meal. If you have never had stuffed calamari we strongly encourage you to give this recipe a try. Calamari were made for stuffing. With their long, hollow (once cleaned) and supple body (which is technically called a mantle), you can easily fill them with an assortment of good stuff. In this Greek stuffed calamari recipe we use rice, some vegetables and herbs to create a wonderful lenten meal.
When we were young this was a recipe which often made an appearance on weekends during lent. Sometimes our parents would prepare this recipe, or something similar, with calamari that they would purchase in cans. The small tubes were packaged in a dark squid ink liquid that we were at once fascinated, and horrified, by. We were hoping to buy a can of calamari to use in this recipe for nostalgia’s sake, but they seem impossible to find these days. No matter, frozen calamari probably gives a better result.
For those of you unfamiliar with calamari, or a little worried and squeamish about cooking with it, let us set your mind at ease. First, calamari is absolutely delicious with a very subtle flavour. It is also incredibly versatile. You can cut the mantle into rings and fry them, as we have done with our fried calamari recipe. You can saute the calamari rings and then add it to a one pan meal like our calamari and rice recipe. Of course, you can also stuff it as we have done here with our Greek stuffed calamari recipe. The trick to cooking calamari is to either cook it over very high heat quickly or with lower heat and slowly. Anything else and you will end up with a rubbery and tough meal.
Stuffed calamari is a really elegant meal which can seem much more complicated and labour intensive that it actually is. In reality, this is a recipe that can easily be prepared in about 30 – 45 minutes, depending on whether you have to clean the calamari or not. Then, about 45 minutes to bake during which time you can make a nice salad to go along with your meal and you are winning at dinner!
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How can I clean calamari?
Sometimes you can find calamari that is already cleaned and ready to use. This is how we purchased it for this recipe. However, if you do find calamari, either fresh or frozen with the tentacles and/or the skeleton, ink sac etc.. still attached don’t panic. It is actually very easy to remove all of the parts you will not need. We found this great reference from Saveur magazine and you can refer to it as well by clicking here.
How much of the filling should I use to stuff my calamari?
There is no precise way to measure this because the amount of rice filling that you will add to your calamari will depend on the size of your calamari. A general rule of thumb however is to fill each calamari tube about halfway. It is important to leave this “empty” space because the rice will expand as it cooks and your calamari will also shrink.
How do I keep my stuffing from falling out of the calamari as it bakes?
Another very important step is to use toothpicks to seal the open end of the calamari closed after you fill it. If you don’t do this your filling risks spilling out of the calamari as it bakes and you will end up with not-completely-stuffed-stuffed calamari. As well, we sometimes notice that the closed tip of the calamari sometimes is torn open – if that’s the case, use a toothpick to seal that end too.
Can I use any variety of rice for this recipe?
You can! In this recipe we used a short-grain rice and were very happy with the results. Our parents typically use a long grain rice, and a Carolina rice in particular. We would only advise that you be wary of using a brown rice. Brown rice would take longer to cook and this may end up making the calamari overcooked and tough – although we honestly can’t be sure about that.
Is there something that I can use in place of wine in this recipe?
If you prefer not to include wine in this recipe you can substitute it with water or even bottled clam juice. For a milder flavour use half water and half clam juice. Alternatively, you can use vegetable broth or a fish broth. Keep in mind that the latter may not be appropriate for a lenten meal.
Looking for some wonderful sides to serve with your stuffed calamari? How about these ideas:
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