Living in landlocked Utah, I don’t get my seafood fix as often as I would like to. But when I do, I like the dishes that can be enjoyed year round and are easy to create, like this calamari stew. In the summer, calamari stew is superb served plain with a glass of ouzo. In the winter it’s equally superb served over a bed of rice. I serve it in the spring and fall, too. It’s a winner no matter when it’s served it, as my dad and I recently did at Salt Lake City’s annual Taste of Greece fundraiser. We literally cooked a vat of calamari stew, nearly 20 pounds of calamari alone. No matter the batch size, this dish is made the same, cooked slowly in a rich tomato sauce and given the final touch of olives and capers.
If you’ve ever prepared calamari you know the simple rule for tenderness—cook it fast (such as on a grill) or cook it slow (as in a stew like this one). Never in between unless you have would rather spend your night chewing. You won’t be chewing calamari if prepared in this style.
- 2 pounds squid (frozen is more readily available)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, whites only, sliced. Save the fronds.
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ⅓ cup ouzo
- ¼ cup capers
- 1 cup green olives
- Fennel fronds, chopped (or dill) to taste
- If not using precut rings, thaw your squid and slice into rings. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and fennel until translucent. Add the garlic. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Add crushed tomatoes and wine. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Add the squid and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour in the ouzo and simmer for 25 to 40 minutes.
- Add the capers, olives and fennel fronds. Stir well and remove from heat.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm.