Since I was making this as 1 of about 245 dishes to be served for a Christmas Eve supper (feast of 7 fishes, to be exact) for 18 people, I doubled the recipe. They were so yummy and very messy-fun to make! Midway through, I decided to scrap the original sauce recipe and improvise toward a more traditional gravy for my family. Try this dish – it tastes even better the next day so is a perfect do-ahead.
Calamari Stuffed with Itself, Shrimp, Spinach and Herbs
serves a lot / adapted from this recipe
Here’s what I used:
- 1 lb medium shrimp, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 4 cups roughly chopped baby spinach
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup store bought italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 cup shredded parmigiano reggiano
- 1/2 package fresh oregano, leaves chopped
- a few pinches crushed red pepper flakes
- about 5 lbs of frozen, cleaned calamari (I used 2 packages of these from the Basket…one with tentacles, one without)
For the gravy:
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp italian seasoning
Here’s what I did:
For the calamari:
- Roughly chop 6 of the calamari bodies and add to a food processor with the chopped shrimp and garlic. Pulse into a coarse paste. I let the calamari packages sit in my fridge for 2 days and they were still frozen solid. I just removed them from the packages and ran under cold water for a while to defrost.
- Remove to a large bowl and add the spinach, eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, herbs, and pinch of crushed red pepper. Season with salt and stir to combine. The mixture should be a little chunky but moist and holding together.
- Test the seasoning of the mix by making a mini patty, cooking it in a small pan and eating it. It should taste really good! If it doesn’t it is probably missing salt. Add more salt, to taste.
- In batches, add stuffing to a medium zip lock bag. Snip the tip of the bag and pipe the stuffing into the remaining calamari bodies. I had enough stuffing to fill 47 bodies. Close each calamari with toothpicks and refrigerate until ready to braise in the gravy. Next, prepare the gravy.
For the gravy:
- Coat a large saucepan with olive oil and add the onions, salt, black, and crushed red pepper and cook over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Add tomatoes, italian seasoning, and bay leaf to the pan. Season with salt, to taste, and simmer the sauce for about 2 hours.
- Add the tentacles and the calamari to the pan and cook for 20 to 25 minutes turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the tentacles and calamari from the pan and remove the toothpicks. Reduce the sauce to thicken, if needed. Arrange the calamari on a serving platter and cover with the sauce before serving.