During the season of Lent, practicing Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays, a symbolic sacrifice since Jesus sacrificed his own body for Catholics. However, it used to be the tradition that Catholics always abstained from eating meats on Fridays year round, and this was a rule observed in my home growing up. We frequently ate this dish on Friday evenings – calamari that is stuffed with a filling of breadcrumbs and eggs, baked over a bed of potatoes. While the dish baked, the potatoes are cooked to perfection – just tender enough to keep their form but perfectly soft.
I always loved this dish growing up and I was eager to recreate it for the website. This dish is an Italian classic and another from cucina povera – poor kitchen. My parents grew up in a port town on the water, and while fish was accessible and affordable, the residents were resourceful in their preparation of these dishes so that they could stretch an ingredient enough to feed an entire family, many times with several children and i nonni – grandparents, all living under the same roof. The stuffing added starch and depth to the fish and the potatoes served as a humble but filling side. The only change I’ve made to my mother’s original recipe was to replace standard all purpose potatoes with baby red potatoes.
This dish is a nostalgic favorite and I hope you enjoy it.
Calamari Ripieni con Patate | Stuffed Calamari and Potatoes
- 1 lb cleaned calamari tubes and tentacles
- 3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 extra large eggs
- 1.5 pounds baby red potatoes, cleaned and halved
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, separated
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the halved potatoes, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley into a baking dish and toss to combine so that the potatoes are coated well.
- Pat the calamari dry and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs together. Add in the breadcrumbs in and combine to form a loose paste.* Using a teaspoon measure, fill the calamari with about 1-2 teaspoons of the breadcrumb mixture. Push the breadcrumb mixture down to the bottom with your fingertips (the tubes should only be about 1/3 of the way full) and secure the top with a toothpick. Place the filled calamari on top of the potatoes. Repeat with the remaining fish and filling.
- Arrange the tentacles atop uncovered pieces of potato in the baking dish. Top the calamari with the tomatoes, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Pour the water over the top of the baking dish. Bake, covered for 1 hour.
- Plate and garnish with remaining parsley. Enjoy immediately.
*The size of the eggs matter here! If you are using large eggs as opposed to extra large eggs, remove about 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs from this recipe. The mixture should form a loose paste – it should not be firm enough roll the mixture together into a ball.