Puttanesca Calamari

Chef Philman George Ideas & Inspiration

On April 2nd, I’ll be in Kitchener Ontario for the Flanagans “Big Brand Theory Trade Show”.  I’ve been asked to create tasty samples of our Loligo squid, however there are a few challenges.  You see, calamari is most commonly prepared either grilled or fried.  Problem is I won’t have access to either a grill or a deep fryer at the trade show….  Hmmmmm.  So I thawed out a few pouches of our pre sliced Loligo squid and attempted to sauté it with some spices, herbs and fresh tomato sauce.  First few attempts were a complete fail.  The sauce was great, but the calamari tasted really bland.  It needed to be coated with bolder flavours.  It needed the Puttanesca!  This is a traditional Italian dish, and is normally served with pasta.  I’ve left the pasta out and made the sauce extra thick, so each bite of calamari is loaded with flavour.   This recipe is for a table of two to share as an appetizer. 

Here is what you will need:

9oz pouch of High Liner Loligo Squid rings and tentacles – thawed
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp diced shallots
3 tsp fine chopped anchovies
1 tsp capers
2 tsp fine chopped black olives
2 tbs low sodium thick tomato basil sauce
1 tsp chopped parsley
¼ tsp dried chili flakes
¼ cup white wine
1 tbs olive oil

No added salted needed in this one! When using anchovies, black olives and capers you really need to be careful.  These are powerful, salty flavours that can ruin a dish.  Technique is key!  

The Techniques:

Start by sweating the shallots and garlic with the olive oil.  I’m using a 9.5 inch heavy bottom aluminum pan.

Turn the heat up to medium high and add in the Loligo squid.  Gently sauté the squid for a few minutes.  It will naturally release it’s juices as it cooks.  No need to worry, these juices are full of flavour and will be the base of our Puttanesca sauce.

**Tip – Calamari is cooked when it no longer looks translucent/opaque.  It’s a subtle visual change, and it takes a keen eye.  Also calamari will shrink as it cooks.  Keeping an eye out for both of these changes are key.  Once the calamari is cooked remove it with a slotted spoon or tongs and set aside.  Now we can focus on making our Puttanesca sauce!

The above picture is what was left in the pan after the cooked calamari was removed. Bring the contents to a boil and stir in the anchovies followed by the capers, olives and chili flakes.  Next add the wine, tomato sauce and let this reduce until thick.  Finish by adding the chopped parsley.  Taste, taste, taste!  You have the option of adding more thick tomato sauce if you desire a less intense Puttanesca

The final step is tossing the cooked calamari with the thick Puttanesca sauce.  Serve with some bread for mopping and enjoy.  Happy Easter everyone!