Monday, January 20, 2014

Fresh Calamari with tomato sauce

With a storm looming over the Northeast and the winter still young, I dream of summer days where the tomatoes are red and sweet, the fish is fresh from the sea and the Farmer's Market stalls are heavy with piles of tender vegetables and lush fruit. I dream of meals on the veranda as the sun dips behind the sea.

Here's a recipe from this past summer that was outstanding!

You don't know what calamari is until you have it fresh. The frozen fried calamari that is served in the New York area restaurants is just an excuse for the marinara sauce that comes with it. At the Greek farmer's market I was tempted by the fresh calamari on display at the fishmonger's counter. But, alas, I didn't know how to clean it! No worries, the man said. And one, two, three he showed me how it's done.

I took the risk and bought a kilo. At 5 euros I felt I couldn't go wrong! I already knew how I was going to cook it. Calamari in fresh tomato-sauce over pasta. I bought my tomatoes for the sauce and off I went.

Once at home, I put on my apron and went to work cleaning the squid. Honestly, it was much easier than I expected. I removed the long bone from inside the conical cavity of the squid, then I removed the hard part inside the tentacles(the head?) and the little sacks that connect the body to the tentacles. What I didn't expect, and what was a pleasant surprise, was the ink that squirted from the sacks when I removed them. I wondered how to preserve the ink for my meal when I rinsed the calamari. I probably should have rinsed the squid first and cleaned it afterwards. But, this time it was too late. Still, there was some ink left on the squid after I rinsed them.

Here's my recipe:

Greek Calamari with fresh tomato sauce over spaghetti

One kilo fresh calamari cleaned and rinsed
One kilo fresh tomatoes peeled and grated
4 tblsp extra virgin Greek Olive oil
3 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 tspn red pepper flakes
1/2 tspn Greek seas salt

1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti

Place the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the crushed garlic in it until it's fragrant.
Add the pepper flakes, stir them in the oil for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes. Add an ounce of ouzo or tsipouro(Greek Grappa).Add your salt and simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes or until it has the desired consistency.

Slice the calamari bodies into rounds and toss into the sauce with the tentacles. Cook for another 15 minutes or until the calamari is cooked through but not overcooked.

In a large pot boil enough water and add your whole wheat spaghetti. Cook the pasta until it is al dente(about 10 minutes). Drain.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss well. Top with grated cheese, we Greeks like to use mizithra  cheese. Serve with crusty bread and wash down with ouzo or tsipouro.