Fettucine with calamari and datterini tomatoes.
My Sicilian hubby’s pasta with calamari and datterini tomatoes.
This recipe is my Sicilian husband’s and he’s the one to usually cook it. (so great to have a hubby that cooks!) It’s actually one of the simplest I have come across and since I’ve eaten it on numerous occasions, I can tell you it’s absolutely divine.(go straight to recipe)
When I was young (rather a lot of years ago now!) the only way I knew to eat calamari was deep fried calamari rings, and this happened mostly on holiday in Spain! I don’t think back then we ever had them in the UK. (I’m talking in the 60s and 70s!)
Now of course, calamari rings are extremely popular everywhere and I still love them! However, since moving to the Mediterranean, I have discovered other delicious ways to cook calamari. Before moving to Italy, I lived in Malta for many years. Calamari is eaten and cooked in both countries in a number of ways.
Nowadays, I can boast that I make a mean stuffed calamari which is really delicious but quite labour intensive, so only on the menu for special occasions! What we do eat pretty often though is pasta with calamari. Surprisingly, this is a really easy dish to make which doesn’t require long cooking times and is pretty high on the deliciousness scale. It’s also healthy, lots of fresh tomatoes and low fat protein!
There are a number of pasta with calamari recipes here in Italy, mostly originating in the Southern regions of Sicily, Campania, Calabria and Puglia. In general, they are all normally quite similar and contain the typical Mediterranean ingredients of garlic, tomatoes, peperoncino and white wine. However, some also include tomato passata or polpa, which I don’t like because the sauce becomes too liquidy. Others add olives and there are some recipes ‘al bianco’, meaning white, which don’t have tomatoes. This I have yet to try!
Great to have a hubby who cooks!
This recipe is my Sicilian husband’s and he’s the one to usually cook it. (so great to have a hubby that cooks!) It’s actually one of the simplest I have come across and since I’ve eaten it on numerous occasions, I can tell you it’s absolutely divine. Friends and family who have been treated to this dish all wax lyrical about it and claim it’s the best pasta with calamari they have ever eaten, and the majority of them are Italians!
The main difference between this recipe and other typical Southern calamari pasta recipes, such as La Calamarata, is in the cooking method. Most recipes say to add the calamari before the tomatoes. My hubby cooks the tomatoes first until they start to soften and turn the olive oil reddish. I think this is why the calamari takes on a reddish colour and the dish is so flavoursome. He also only uses fresh baby or very small calamari and lots and lots of parsley.
Which pasta to use?
We normally eat this dish with fresh fettucine, which is not typical in Southern Italy. Fettucine is more popular in Lazio and Tuscany, but it’s just a question of personal preference. In Southern Italy calamari is more normally eaten with spaghetti or paccheri. You can also use linguine or tagliolini. If you can’t find fresh baby calamari, you can use frozen; but not just calamari rings, use whole calamari. Cooking times may change with frozen calamari but the important thing is not to cook the calamari too long, otherwise they will become rubbery. If needs be, keep checking and turn off the heat as soon as the calamari are soft.
If you love seafood pasta, don’t be afraid to make this at home. Many people only eat seafood pasta in restaurants because they think it must be difficult to make and expensive. I promise you it’s almost as simple as making a tomato sauce. Plus, calamari is probably one of the least expensive and most easily available seafood. Go on give it a try and let me know what you think!
(See the recipe on the next page)