A seafood dish prepared in spring as we anticipate and wait for the summer to make its official entry. These pleasantly tender, chewy & grilled baby calamari (which could either be made with squids or cuttlefish) are easy to prepare with bright lemony and fennel flavors and stuffed with a delicate filling of various greens, fresh aromatic herbs and creamy ricotta cheese.
It’s a simple dish to make throughout the year with frozen seafood unless you prefer to wait for the official fishing season for different squids and cuttlefish. If buying frozen calamari, please remember that when they defrost, they’ll lose about 20% of their weight in water so choose the total weight needed accordingly.
I’ve chosen small squids for this dish to become little delightful morsels of 2-3 bites each but if using larger ones, remember that the body wall thickness will be much thicker and chewier.
The filling is a mixture of simmered greens such as spinach, fennel bulb, onions, garlic, fresh herbs and of course, ricotta and an egg and of course. You can modify the filling proportions and add more ricotta and less spinach for a lighter colored filling. The tentacles are also fried up and added to the filling so nothing goes to waste and they add texture. Try to reserve some of the cooked greens filling (before adding the egg, ricotta and tentacles) to add to the rice for something more flavorful and colorful than simply white rice.
To assemble them, you’ll need a piping bag because even if you have a tiny espresso spoon, it’ll be very difficult to fill them up until plump, then pinching them shut and using thin metal skewers or toothpicks to keep them shut. And don’t forget a splash of olive oil and lemon juice and some herbs and spices to finish them up before baking and broiling.
They bake relatively quickly and puff up beautifully but a little broiling on both sides of the stuffed squids will make them tastier and more appealing, almost like you had grilled them.
And obviously, to make them more summery, to be served with rice and some lemon wedges and a light sprinkling of lemon zests and fresh dill … :)