Calamaria Gemista is Greek for stuffed squid. Although deep-fried squid rings are available as an appetizer at nearly every restaurant in this country these days, squid is rarely offered in other dishes and almost never as a main course. I suspect that squid is equally underrated in home cooking. This is a dish that appeals to squid lovers and the squid-squeamish. Stuffed with a unique rice filling flavored with mint, currants and pine nuts and baked in a light tomato sauce, this comforting dish is more akin to lasagna or ravioli. It does involve some time and labor, especially if you have to clean the squid yourself, but it is well worth the effort. Avoid the temptation to overstuff the squid as this will cause them to explode during baking. That said, no matter what I do, I always have a couple burst and I just serve those ones to myself and save the pretty ones for my guests! Try serving these squid with simple grilled vegetables and olive bread on the side and nice chilled bottle of Greek wine.
Calamaria Gemista
Grilled Vegetable Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce
Olive Bread
Greek White Wine


for the squid...
16 (4 to 6 inch long) cleaned squid with tentacles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup long grain rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons currants
salt and pepper

for the sauce...
2 tablespoons olive oil
a 14-ounce can of tomatoes, pureed until mostly smooth
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

additional chopped parsley for garnish

Cooking Instructions

Rinse the squid bodies and set aside while you make the filling. Finely chop the tentacles.

To make the filling, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet with a fitting lid. Add the onions and cook until wilted (about 3 minutes.) Add the rice and tentacles. Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes. Add the wine and the water and cover the skillet. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is nearly to fully cooked (10 to 15 minutes.) Mix in the parsley, mint, pine nuts, currants and salt and pepper to taste.

Loosely stuff each squid with the filling and secure the open end with a toothpick. I usually use about 1-1/2 tablespoons of filling per squid but, depending on the size of your squid, you may use more or less than that. It is important to avoid overstuffing the squid or they will explode during baking. You will probably end up with some leftover filling.

To make the sauce, bring the olive oil, tomato puree and wine to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pour about half of the tomato sauce into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Arrange the squid in a single layer in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the squid. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake, basting the squid with the sauce occasionally, until the squid are tender (about 30 minutes longer.) Serve garnished with additional chopped parsley.

Makes 4 servings



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elliemay's blog

Depending on where you shop, you may be able to buy squid that has been cleaned and separated into bodies and tentacles. However, it is usually cheaper to buy whole squid and clean them yourself. You can find good instructions for cleaning squid on the internet but here is a quick overview:

1) Cut off the tentacles just above the eyes. Squeeze out the inedible beak which will be located in the center of the tentacles. 2) Holding the body firmly, pull gently on the head to pull the head and the innards out of the body. 3) Pull out the clear piece of cartilage running along the top of the body. 4) Peel off the purplish membrane coating the squid.

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