Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mushroom-and-Mascarpone-Stuffed Calamari with Easy Tomato Sauce

Squid has a very mild, slightly sweet taste, and its texture benefits from one of two cooking methods: hot and fast or low and slow. The quick-cooking method is typically best for squid bodies cut into rings, but stuffed, whole bodies tenderize better with a lower-temperature braise.

Here, I made a simple filling of earthy crimini mushrooms and sweet, creamy mascarpone cheese, and topped the stuffed calamari with a simple tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. The ingredients are few but the taste won’t disappoint.

For a quick-cooking calamari dish, try Pasta with Calamari and Sweet Peas in Garlicky Cream Sauce.

Makes 5 small stuffed calamari


For the Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes (from a 28-oz can)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Calamari
  • 2 tsp plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 oz crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 medium cleaned squid bodies (tubes)
  • olive oil, for oiling dish
  • 1/3 cup shredded or coarsely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cooked orzo
Filling Ingredients
Cleaned Squid Tubes

For the Tomato Sauce
  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes, white wine, vinegar, and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly until thickened, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Tomato Sauce Beginning to Cook
Easy Tomato Sauce
For the Calamari
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 2 teaspoons of butter. Add the chopped mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and the liquid is absorbed, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool 10 minutes.
Mushrooms Beginning to Cook 
Cooked Mushrooms
  1. Place the mushrooms in a bowl and add the mascarpone and parsley. Stir well to combine.
  2. Stuff the squid bodies loosely with the mushroom-cheese mixture (about 3 tablespoons per body; over-stuffing can cause the flesh to break).
Filling for the Calamari 
Stuffed Calamari
  1. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter sizzles, add the calamari and cook until beginning to brown, 8-9 minutes, turning on all sides. (Note: The mascarpone will begin to ooze out of the tubes. That’s okay—it makes great pan juices.)
Calamari Beginning to Cook
Browned Calamari with Pan Juices
  1. Remove the calamari to a lightly oiled baking dish, along with about 3 tablespoons of the pan juices, and pour the tomato sauce on top. Scatter parmesan over the sauce.
  2. Bake uncovered until the sauce is bubbly and the calamari is cooked through, 20 minutes.
Calamari with Pan Juices
Baked Calamari
To serve, divide the orzo between 2 plates and place 2 or 3 calamari on top. Spoon sauce from the baking dish over the orzo and serve right away.

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