So I’m afraid I’m not done with those Sicilian flavours yet. If I’m being honest with I’m not sure I ever will be I just love the way that the flavours of everything you see growing there pervade everything you eat. If you’ve never sampled the food think almonds, raisins, oranges, lemons, garlic, olives and capers and you’ll get the idea. There isn’t much that wouldn’t be improved upon given this treatment with the possible exception of chocolate.
With that in mind I decided to mess around with some squid this week. Squid is just coming into season in the UK and as long as you buy it with the Marine Standard Certificate (MSC) can be a delicious healthy and reasonably priced meal. Full of B vitamins (2,3 and 12), zinc, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and selenium, squid will help stabile your blood sugar, strengthen your bones, reduce your blood pressure, lower your risk of heart disease and relieve and help prevent arthritis. I am always amazed that more people don’t eat it regularly. Most folks I ask (and believe me I do) say it’s because it’s too rubbery but it all depends on how you handle it. With squid it’s either short or long. And never in between, unless you like rubber. One of my favorite ways to eat it is for a summer lunch, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and lots of garlic then grilled on a hot barbecue as if it were a rare steak. Keep the minutes in the single figures. When a knife passes through it, it’s done. I toss mine in more olive oil and lemon juice with a big pinch of sea salt before diving in. But if you fancy taking your time about more and still enjoying a plate full of summery squid then this is definitely the way to go.
Stuffed Squid and Caponata Recipe
For the squid:
12 squid hoods, cleaned
1 red chilli
3 cloves garlic
A bunch fresh basil shredded just before you want to use it
150g fresh breadcrumbs
60g blanched almonds finely ground (in the processor)
1 tbsp chopped black olives or a couple of tsps of tapenade
Start by crushing your garlic and leaving to one side for the allicin to develop, then warm through a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan.
Melt the anchovies in the oil (using your wooden spoon to bash them up a bit and help them along the way) then throw in the garlic and chilli and move that around the own a bit to take off the raw flavour. Don’t let it colour. Pour the oil into a large bowl.
Soak your tomatoes in boiling water for a minute then slip their skins off and roughly dice then, reserving any of their juices. Add the chopped pulp and juices to the bowl with the oil.
Stir through the olives or tapenade and add the shredded basil along with the bread crumbs and ground almonds. Season the mixture with sea salt and pepper.
Using a teaspoon, stuff spoonfuls of the mixture into the squid hood and lie them side by side in an ovenproof dish. About 2 and 1/2 per hood usually does it, depending on the sir of your hoods. Sprinkle any left over mixture over the top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife gently inserted into the squid passes through with no resistance.
For the caponata:
2 aubergines/ eggplants
2 courgettes/ zucchini
1 onion, diced
1 red chilli
1 tbsp each fresh oregano, thyme and flat leaved parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed (do this first, it’s better for you)
6-8 large tomatoes, roughly died
2 tbsp capers
Around 40-50 ml (3 tbsps or just under) herby vinegar. I used four thieves vinegar
A handful of black olives (optional)
Start by slicing your aubergines and courgettes then browning them in a large frying pan. Your choice whether you salt them previously or not.
When they are golden brown on each side, put to one side.
Pour a tablespoon or so of oil to the pan then start softening your onion. After five minutes throw in the chilli and garlic, along with the herbs.
Cook for a minute or so, then add the capers and vinegar. Reduce the vinegar down for a couple of minutes then throw in the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down then simmer for fifteen minutes until it thickens up slightly.
Put the aubergine and courgette back into the pan for the last five minutes and throw in a handful of black olives if your using.
Top with some torn up basil, lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice and one or two squid hoods. Enjoy!