I’m thrilled to have Ceri Jones of Natural Kitchen Adventures guest blogging here at Zenbelly this week. Her blog is full of gorgeous simple recipes that are mostly paleo, and always gluten-free… Like mine! I’m looking forward to working with her at some catering events later this month. Until then, I will occasionally email her and beg her to make me this:
I love how even on the opposite side of the world; the climate, local produce and much of the cuisine in California is incredibly similar to that I know from many happy holidays on the Mediterranean. Being from the UK I realise how lucky I am to have the rich culture and wonderful food of Southern Europe right on my doorstep, and have been fortunate enough over the years to have clocked up holidays in France, Italy, Spain, the Greek Islands, Turkey & Malta. Since the UK is actually smaller than California it does make travel a bit simpler!
I absolutely adore squid, and on discovering how reasonably priced Wild Californian squid is – especially in comparison to other wild seafood & fish – I have been buying it regularly. I’m determined to eat locally sourced produce as much as I can while I’m here, and am currently mourning the temporary loss of my favorite North Atlantic mackerel and Scottish smoked salmon. I’ve cooked squid many times before, usually opting to pan fry in a simple cracked black pepper coating, coated in a salsa verde or sliced into rings and cooked with a paleo-friendly crispy coating and dipped in hand made – is there anything more satisfying – mayonnaise. All these recipes can be found on my blog!
Since I’d never tried stuffing my own squid before I decided this would be a great recipe to conquer and add to my squid repertoire. The inspiration comes from one of my favourite chef’s of the moment – Israeli Yotam Ottolenghi If you haven’t yet had the chance to familiarize yourself with his recipes or cooking style I insist you go check them out. Most dishes focus on fresh whole ingredients, and substitutions for grains or legumes if you don’t tolerate them can easily be found. Along with the ingredients in the tittle this dish features plenty of health boosting fresh herbs, omega 3 rich walnuts and an exquisite freshness from the lemon zest.
I’m not going to lie and tell you this is a super quick midweek supper dish. Cleaning and stuffing the squid took quite a bit of faff and time. You cay ask the fishmonger to clean up the fish for you but if you have the time and don’t mind doing it yourself then you gain way more pounds for your buck. It was however time incredibly well spent. The dish tasted better than I could have anticipated and I hope you’ll agree would make a stunning centre piece on a dinning table. The prep and stuffing can all be done in advance, so perfect if you wanted to serve this up for friends and didn’t want to slave away in the kitchen all night!
Mediterranean Stuffed Baby Squid, Braised in a Tomato & Red Pepper Sauce
Prep time 1 hr, cooking time 30 mins.
- 1 zucchini, coarsely grated, moisture squeezed out (approx. 1 cup)
- ¼ cup roughly chopped
- 2 Tbs roughly chopped
- 2 Tbs roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbs currants
- Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- ½ Tbs lemon juice
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- Salt & pepper to Season
- 8 whole baby squid tubes and the tentacles, cleaned* (2-2.2 lbs before cleaning)
- 8 toothpicks
- 1 Tbs olive oil, divided
- ½ onion, finely diced
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp sweet paprika, plus extra to finish
- 2 garlic clove, crushed
- 4 salad tomatoes, diced and de-seeded
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- ½ cup vegetable stock
- ½ Tbs lemon juice
- Salt & pepper to Season
- Handful dill to finish
- First make up the stuffing. Place the all of the ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well. Season with a large pinch of salt and a twist of black pepper.
- Now here’s the fiddly bit – stuffing the squid. Using your fingers open up the squid tube and press in the stuffing, leaving a ¼-½ inch gap at the top. Place a tentacle to seal up the hole (sadly I lost one of mine down the sink), and secure together with a toothpick. Continue till all 8 are filled. I found the stuffing to be the perfect amount but it will depend on the size of your baby squid.
- Heat ½ Tbs of olive oil in a deep frying pan (or a shallow wide saucepan), and sear the squid for 1-2 minutes then turn over for a second minute. You are looking to give it a little colour.
- Remove the squid from the pan and add a further ½ T of olive oil. Sauté the onions for 7-8 minutes until softened, add the spices and stir, then the garlic for a further minute. Now add in the tomatoes, peppers, the paste, vegetable stock, lemon juice, ¼ tsp salt and bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes as the sauce begins to thicken.
- Add the squid back into the sauce, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes remove the squid temporarily and blend the sauce with an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender depending on how much mess you want to make. I love mess and used an immersion). Return to the pan. If you want a thicker sauce you can reduce it slightly by whacking up the heat for a few minutes. Add a little black pepper and check the taste for preferred salt levels. Add the squid back in, and sprinkle a little extra smoked paprika and dill fronds over the saucepan.
- Take the pan to the table for diners to help themselves. Serve with a side salad or other veg of choice – zucchini noodles would be great!
If you want to scale up this recipe for additional diners you could get away with adding in at least 4-6 more baby squid without the need for extra tomato & pepper sauce, though it will depend on the size of your pan.
Any leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge.
Natural Kitchen Adventures, written by 30-something Londoner Ceri Jones is a recipe blog and resource following Ceri’s adventures in the kitchen as she explores a world of eating natural, mostly Paleo & always gluten free foods. Her original yet incredibly simple recipes reflect her interest in naturopathic nutrition (using foods holistically as medicine) and a desire to get everyone to just simply eat and feel better. Ceri is currently on a career & foodie sabbatical exploring the delights of Northern California, and is looking forward to meeting Simone to find out what goes on in the world of a Paleo caterer later this month.
Find me on social media:
twitter, instagram & pinterest: @cerikitchen
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