Monday, May 18, 2009

Spicy Calamari Tossed in Marinara Sauce

Squid is a popular item in many restaurants, especially the fried variety. In the culinary universe, squid is better known by its Italian name, calamari. Popular as a snack or appetizer, fried calamari is easy to prepare and delicious to eat. Dipping a morsel in some spicy sauce and popping one in your mouth is as enjoyable as stuffing a handful of popcorn or nachos in your mouth while watching the Super Bowl.

Calamari is usually bought frozen from the seafood section of your local grocery store. Cleaning and preparing the squid for cooking may not be as enjoyable as eating it but it has to be done. To skip this task, you can buy calamari already cleaned and ready to go. Even though it is more expensive, it may be worth it not having to spend extra time cleaning these cephalopods. The body is usually cut cross-section into rings and together with the tentacles, are the only edible parts of the squid.

For this appetizer, I forgo the usual method of preparation (deep fried) for an even easier way of cooking calamari. Start by sautéing shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes until slight brown. Add the calamari and cook for just a couple of minutes until the squid turns opaque or white. Be careful not to overcook the calamari because they will turn rubbery and chewy. Scoop one or two tablespoons of marinara sauce together with some chopped fresh basil leaves and toss all the ingredients together. Sprinkle some chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese on top and it is ready for serving.

There's little doubt that this dish would be a popular appetizer at any dinner party.

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