Calamari with Fennel in a Saffron Tomato Broth

It’s the most enjoyed time of year for food lovers. As my husband came home the other day, with all of these goodies that aren’t usually in the house, I couldn’t help but feeling like a child opening up gifts on Christmas day, as I unwrapped cheese pastries, gingerbread, poppy seed breads and a variety of kielbasas. Foods that aren’t usually had, enjoyed (really enjoyed) and now the time comes, (sigh) the guilt of over indulgence. And to remedy it, a light, yet flavorful dinner is needed. Fennel is a great vegetable, flavorful, light and combining it with seafood makes an equally flavorful meal. But…if you are still indulging, lol, top with a little cream and it’s a symphony of flavors, nice enough for a small impromptu party. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound squid tentacles
  • 3/4 cup minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into small slices
  • reserved fennel fronds for garnish
  • 6 Campari tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • pinch saffron threads
  • pinch annatto
  • pinch smoked paprika
  • pinch fennel seeds, crushed and chopped
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • pinch Vegeta seasoning or any all-purpose seasoning

In a heavy bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven, combine the olive oil, butter and shallot. Saute on low heat, until softened about 10 minutes. Add in the fennel bulb, very little salt, pepper, saffron, annato, smoked paprika and fennel seeds and give it a good stir. Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste and water and let it simmer on low for 20 minutes until the tomato has broken down, stirring occasionally. Add in the calamari and cook for a few minutes, until the calamari is opaque and firm. Adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and Vegeta. Serve with a small shaped pasta, rice, grits or even smooth and creamy mashed potatoes would be a nice side dish. Top with fennel fronds. Serves 4.

Black Ink Spaghetti with Squid

Everyone will scream in horror and run from the table, when they see squid tentacles falling over the plate, unexpectedly reaching and grasping to take hold of any helpless victim that falls in their path. (Ok, maybe not scream but it will be fun for sure, it’s not every night that you have black ink spaghetti and squid tentacles for dinner.) For some reason the theme song from Jaws keeps playing in my head, when the shark is oh so close and everyone runs from the water, screaming, just as everyone will run from that dinner table. That was a great movie. I really need to watch Jaws over the weekend! Speaking of weekend, everyone have a great one and enjoy the fall foliage, carving pumpkins and grasping tentacles that you have to fight off, for dinner. ;)

  • 4 oz. black ink spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 3/4 pound squid tentacles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes *optional
  • 2 cups good marinara sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light cream
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • sea salt, if needed

In a Dutch pot, on low heat combine the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for 5 minutes, until the garlic gets soft. Add the marinara sauce and heat until it’s simmering, about 5 minutes. Add the squid and simmer for about 5 minutes until the squid turns opaque and is pink and purple in color. Scoop the squid out, leaving the sauce in the pot. On high heat, bring the sauce to a boil for 2-3 minutes, add in the cream, pepper and salt. Heat for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Toss in the squid and spaghetti, gently toss and enjoy! Serves 2. Double or triple the recipe as needed. Enjoy!

Savory Steel Cut Oats with Calamari in Tomato Sauce

I wanted something quick  for dinner one night and I found myself reaching for the steel cut oats tin??? And I know what you’re thinking, “Oatmeal for dinner?” I thought the same thing, until the one night I found myself cooking it …and adding salt and ground pepper (I’ve graduated to adding saffron threads, really yummy). And then I topped it with calamari in tomato sauce! And what happened that night was an oatmeal-for-dinner-lover was born! And I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  • 1 pound of calamari, however you like it, I use a mix of tubes (cut into rings) and tentacles. 
  • about a half a cup, or more of good marinara sauce, if I don’t have any homemade on hand, I use Victoria’s
  •  fresh garlic or garlic powder, ground pepper, fresh basil, if you have any on hand 
  • steel cut oats, (1 cup of water to 1/4 cup of oats will make a 1/2 cup cooked)
Use whatever you like to coat your pot, a little butter and olive oil is nice. Add your tomato sauce and spices, cover and bring it to a simmer. Add your calamari and cook until opaque. It doesn’t take long, sometimes I cover the pot, to speed up the cooking process. Stir it a few times to make sure the heat is distributed evenly. I usually start cooking the steel cut oats, while I add the calamari, to the tomato sauce. When your oats are done, spoon them into a nice roomy bowl and top with your garlicy calamari in tomato sauce. Top with any additional freshly ground pepper or fresh basil. This can nicely serve 6 people.