Calamarata Pasta with Stewed Cuttlefish and Peas.

Calamarata Pasta with Stewed Cuttlefish and Peas.

Stewed cuttlefish and peas is a delicious classic Italian seafood recipe that can be served as a main course or, as I have done, with pasta. In Italy, it’s eaten all year round, but is especially popular in the spring when fresh peas are available!

Calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas

Calamarata con seppioline e piselli.

Stewed cuttlefish and peas is a popular and traditional recipe in Central and Southern Italy. In fact, a number of different regions consider it a typical regional dish. You can find this recipe ‘alla Romagnola’ (from Emilia-Romagna) ‘alla Napoletana’ (from Campania) and ‘alla Siciliana’ (from Sicily). I followed an ‘alla Romana’ recipe from Lazio. It’s also made in Le Marche and Abruzzo.

Calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas

Unlike some other traditional dishes, this recipe is practically the same throughout the regions it is eaten in. Slight variations are the use of garlic instead of onion and the inclusion of basil rather than parsley, as well as the addition of peperoncino (red chili pepper). Those versions are more Southern Italian. Some people make a ‘white’ version, meaning without tomatoes. I made that too so you can see the difference. Taste wise it’s hard to choose. Both versions are delicious and I particularly like it with calamarata pasta.

ingredients for calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas

Cuttlefish is not squid!

This calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas can be made with large or small (baby) cuttlefish. When Italians cook this dish as a main course using baby cuttlefish, they often keep the cuttlefish whole! For pasta, you need to cut the cuttlefish into smaller pieces whatever their size. I used baby cuttlefish, called seppioline in Italian.

shelled fresh peas, cleaned and cut cuttlefish, chopped parsley, tomatoes and onions

Although some people confuse them, cuttlefish are not squid! They are a separate species of the Cephalopoda family which includes squid and octopus. Most of the species in this family produce ink which they release into the water to help them escape from predators! However, it is actually mostly cuttlefish ink that is used in Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine, even if the label says squid ink!

onions and cuttlefish cooking in Dutch oven

I used baby cuttlefish for this calamarata pasta recipe but you can also use larger cuttlefish, calamari or moscardini (musky octopus). The cuttlefish can be fresh or frozen. Like squid and octopus, cuttlefish are actually more tender when frozen. So, using frozen is okay. Also fresh cuttlefish can be messy to clean because of the ink sacs. Frozen ones have normally had the ink sacs and innards removed.

onions, cuttlefish, tomatoes and peas cooking in Dutch oven

The pasta.

As mentioned above, stewed cuttlefish and peas is eaten here in Italy as a main course or with pasta.  Of course, I served it with pasta. However, you can eat this dish with bread, potatoes, rice or polenta!

The pasta I used is calamarata. I love this pasta. It’s originally from Naples, where they usually eat it with seafood. As you may imagine, the word ‘calamarata’ comes from calamari. This pasta resembles calamari rings. In fact, there is a fabulous traditional recipe from Naples with this pasta and calamari called La Calamarata . Check out the recipe for that by clicking the link below.

uncooked calamarata pasta made by Le Gemme del Vesuvio

I bought calamarata pasta made by a company  called Le Gemme del Vesuvio located in Naples. This pasta was really good and I would use it again. But, I’m not sure how widely available it is outside of Italy. However, many well-known pasta makers produce calamarata pasta. Among those I’d recommend are Pastificio dei Campi, Rummo, Di Martino, La Molisana, Afeltra and De Cecco. (There are others of course!)

stewed cuttlefish and peas in deep skillet

If you can’t find calamarata pasta, you can make this dish with other large pasta tubes like mezze maniche, pennoni (large penne), paccheri etc.

Making this calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas.

As with many Italian pasta recipes, this dish doesn’t have a ton of ingredients. Apart from the pasta and cuttlefish, you only need a white onion, white wine, parsley, vegetable broth, seasoning, peas (fresh or frozen) and tomatoes (fresh or canned).

calamarata pasta in skillet with stewed cuttlefish sauce

Like calamari and octopus, cuttlefish need to be cooked either very fast or slow. This is because these sea creatures have a lot of connective tissue. When cooked fast these tissues don’t have time to harden so the cuttlefish stays soft and tender. In fact, you can even eat them raw!

Calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas

When slow cooked, the connective tissues break down and the cuttlefish becomes tender. Since this is a stewed cuttlefish recipe it requires about one hour of cooking in total.  If not cooked enough, the cuttlefish will be tough. Just cook it longer to soften it further!

Calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas

As I have mentioned you can make this stewed cuttlefish and peas recipe as a main course or with pasta. You can add tomatoes or, if you prefer, make it white (bianco). Whichever way you decide to prepare this dish, I’m sure you will love it! 

If you do try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon appetito!

Other calamarata recipes on The Pasta Project.

  1. La calamarata recipe from Naples

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5 from 19 votes
Calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas
Calamarata Pasta with Stewed Cuttlefish and Peas
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins

A classic Italian seafood recipe, this stewed cuttlefish and peas can be served as a main course or with pasta. You can add tomatoes or, if you prefer, make it white (bianco). Either way it's sure to be a winner with seafood lovers!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Central Italy, Italian, Rome & Lazio
Keyword: calamarata, cuttlefish, Italian recipe, peas, seafood pasta, traditional recipe
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 400 g calamarata pasta (14oz) or other large pasta tubes
  • 700 g cuttlefish (24oz) I used baby cuttlefish
  • 250 g fresh peas (9oz) or frozen (weight after shelled)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes washed and cut in half
  • 400 g tomato passata (14oz) Use half if serving as a main course
  • 1-2 white onions peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (homemade or ready made)
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  1. If your cuttlefish are fresh, you can ask your fishmonger to clean them. If not you will need to clean them. Cut below the eyes to remove the tentacles and gently pull the head out along with the guts, taking care not to burst the ink sack. Reserve the ink sac for another recipe or just discard it.

  2. Rinse in cold water to wash away any sand or spilled ink. Pull out the beak and discard, and pull the outer membrane from the body (you may need to aid your grip with a tea towel). You’ll be left with a bright, brilliant white tube and the tentacles. Cut everything into small pieces.

  3. Even frozen cuttlefish may have to have the head, membrane and beak removed.

  4. Peel and chop the onion. Clean the tomatoes and cut them in half. Wash and chop the parsley. Shell the peas if using fresh ones. Heat the vegetable broth.

  5. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan or skillet. I used my Dutch oven. Add the onion, to the oil and soften it. Then add the cuttlefish and a ladle of broth. When the liquid has reduced, add the white wine. When all the alcohol has evaporated and you no longer smell the wine, add the tomatoes and peas (if using fresh).

  6. Let the flavors blend together without adding more liquid, stirring over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Then add the passata and the peas (if using frozen). Add salt as needed and continue cooking until the cuttlefish becomes tender (about 20 minutes depending on the size). Add more broth if the sauce dries out.

  7. In the meantime put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.

  8. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add to the sauce. (I transferred the sauce from my Dutch oven to a deep skillet before doing this). Mix everything together well, sprinkle with fresh parsley and cook for another minute. 

  9. Serve immediately with more fresh parsley if required. 

For sauce without tomatoes.
  1. Instead of tomatoes you can use more broth to cook the cuttlefish and peas. Then add a little pasta cooking water to the sauce before adding the drained pasta.

Recipe Notes

You can eat this dish with bread, potatoes, rice or polenta, instead of pasta. 

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calamarata pasta with stewed cuttlefish and peas

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  • Avatar
    Danielle Wolter
    July 9, 2019 12:48 pm

    I never knew you could use cuttlefish ink! This recipe sounds just incredible – love the use of cuttlefish!

    • Jacqui
      July 18, 2019 10:33 am

      Thank you Danielle! Yes cuttlefish ink is used a lot in Italian and Japanese cuisine! It’s what they use to make black pasta. I love using cuttlefish too!

  • Avatar
    Heidy L. McCallum
    July 9, 2019 12:26 pm

    I have never had this dish but it looks amazing and I would love to try it this weekend. I will let you know who it turns out!

    • Jacqui
      July 18, 2019 10:34 am

      I’m sure you’ll really enjoy this calamarata pasta with cuttlefish Heidy. It really is amazing!

  • Avatar
    July 9, 2019 12:01 pm

    Such a fabulous recipe! Love how flavorful and easy this dinner is!

    • Jacqui
      July 18, 2019 10:34 am

      Thank you Kim! I think this is a fabulous recipe too!

  • Avatar
    July 9, 2019 11:21 am

    Oh, that looks really delish and gourmet! I love that it’s only a few simple ingredients. thanks for sharing!

    • Jacqui
      July 18, 2019 10:42 am

      Happy you like this cuttlefish pasta recipe Tatiana. I agree only a few ingredients but def gourmet!

  • Avatar
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    July 9, 2019 11:13 am

    I didn’t actually know the difference between cuttlefish and squid! This looks like such a delicious dish.

    • Jacqui
      July 18, 2019 10:43 am

      Thank you Bintu! Although cuttlefish and squid are different, both can be used in this delicious calamarata pasta recipe!

  • Avatar
    May 16, 2019 4:59 am

    I love a glass of wine in my pasta dishes!! This is a new type of pasta I haven’t seen before, it is interesting. I like it. Great ideas here. Thanks

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 9:55 am

      Thank you Adrianne! As Julia Childs said ‘ I enjoy cooking with wine! Sometimes I even put it in the food!’ If you can find calamarata pasta, do try it! It’s really good!

  • Avatar
    May 16, 2019 1:09 am

    I could eat the whole pan of this! Absolute perfection! I love that calamarata pasta and pairs perfectly with cuttlefish.

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 9:56 am

      Thanks Michelle! Yes calamarata pairs perfectly with cuttlefish. In fact, in Naples this pasta is mostly eaten with seafood!

  • Avatar
    Beth Neels
    May 15, 2019 7:15 pm

    Such a simple, delicious pasta dish! I love the addition of the cuttlefish! Can’t wait to give it a try! Thanks!

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 9:57 am

      Thank you Beth! I’m sure you’ll love this pasta with cuttlefish!

  • Avatar
    Susan @ Simply Sundays
    May 15, 2019 5:42 pm

    You learn a new thing every day! Thanks for explaining the differences in cuttlefish and calamari. And how cuttlefish ink is used in place of squid ink! Always such interesting stories to go with your delicious dishes! This looks amazing! Not sure I can find that type of pasta here in NY, but I’m certainly going to try!

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 9:58 am

      Thanks so much Susan! I’m happy you appreciate the info I add to my recipe posts! I’m sure you can find calamarata pasta in NY. Try Eataly!

  • Avatar
    May 15, 2019 2:07 pm

    It cannot get any better – I have most ingredients and kids will love me forever for making this pasta which for them will be like giant hoola hoops on their plate – a brilliant idea. Will make this tonight. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful pasta dish idea 😉

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:00 am

      Thank you dear Ramona! I hope your kids enjoyed the giant ‘hoola hoops’! Calamarata is a popular pasta with kids here in Italy too! And most young Italians love seafood!

  • Avatar
    May 14, 2019 2:31 pm

    It was a huge hit at my house! Everyone loved it!

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:01 am

      So glad you and your family enjoyed this pasta dish Toni!

  • Avatar
    May 14, 2019 1:11 pm

    I love an Italian pasta dish. Right up my alley! Sounds so full of flavour.

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:02 am

      Grazie Rosa! Yes this calamarata with cuttlefish and peas is super flavourful!

  • Avatar
    May 14, 2019 11:52 am

    I must confess, I did try to reach through my computer screen in the hopes I could grab some of this delicious food 😉 But I will be enjoying it soon. Scrumptious recipe full of beautiful flavour!

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:03 am

      Haha! I’m sorry you couldn’t get to try this dish through the computer screen Alexandra! But, I’m sure you’ll love it when you cook it!

  • Avatar
    Helen of Fuss Free Flavours
    May 14, 2019 11:27 am

    I do like traditional Italian dishes, full of flavour and delicious ingredients. Cuttlefish sounds like a wonderful addition, and so handy that you can actually buy it prepped, frozen.

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:04 am

      Thanks Helen! Yes I love the fact that cuttlefish, calamari and octopus are just as good frozen as fresh and pretty easy to find in most places!

  • Avatar
    Shashi at SavorySpin
    May 14, 2019 10:54 am

    I didn’t realize that frozen cutlefish would be more tender than fresh – thank you for that nugget of knowledge! And for this delicious recipe!

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:08 am

      Thanks Sashi! Happy you like this recipe! Yes, in fact, cuttlefish, calamari and octopus are just about the only seafood I don’t mind cooking from frozen because they are more tender!

  • Avatar
    Morgan Eisenberg
    May 13, 2019 9:32 pm

    Both versions look so satisfying, but I think I’ll start with the tomato and basil.

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:09 am

      I like both versions as well Morgan but if I had to choose, I’d go for the tomato and basil too!

  • Avatar
    Rebecca | Let’s Eat Cake
    May 13, 2019 8:49 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had cuttlefish, but I have tried squid + octopus. Do they taste similar?

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:11 am

      I think cuttlefish taste similar to squid Rebecca! Octopus has a stronger taste, but maybe because we usually eat it in a rich stew!

  • Avatar
    Jessica Formicola
    May 13, 2019 7:41 pm

    I’ve never had pasta shaped like this! Such a fun looking pasta with delicious flavor!

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:12 am

      Calamarata is a great type of pasta Jessica. It goes so well with seafood too.

  • Avatar
    May 13, 2019 7:36 pm

    My family is from Southern Italy and you definitely got the flavors right here! This looks absolutely delicious! Well done 🙂

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:14 am

      Grazie Angela! My hubby is Sicilian so he advises me on and helps with the Southern Italian recipes, especially seafood! Yes, this is seriously delicious!

  • Avatar
    May 13, 2019 7:27 pm

    I’ve never had cuttlefish, definitely sounds interesting and delicious!

    • Jacqui
      July 9, 2019 10:15 am

      Thanks Tisha! I’m sure if you like calamari (squid) you’ll love cuttlefish! I hope you’ll get to try it!

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