Random Nodes reminded me of a dish I've always liked but haven't made lately because I have never found fresh calamar / squid here in Florida.
If you have fresh calamar you might want to try this. It serves six and is the sort of main dish that can be made a few hours ahead and then put in the oven while you are doing the last-minute items. I usually serve it with plain rice.
It doesn't have a fancy name, just:
Calamar stuffed with olives in tomato sauce
1-1/2 lbs. calamar about 4" long
1 can (6 oz./170 gr.) pitted ripe black olives
a good-sized bunch of curly parsley
2 to 2-1/2 cups of commercial bread crumbs (unseasoned)
1/2 cup cognac/brandy
2 tsps. coarse black pepper flakes
In cleaning the calamar do not cut into the body; it must remain entire so it can be stuffed. Clean the calamar thoroughly, removing outside skin, intestines, heads and tentacles. Take out the beak (a small hard object at the base of the tentacles). Remove the cuttle bone by slitting the inside flesh only as far as the bone and then slip it out. Wash in cold, running water until the water runs clear (to be sure the ink is all out). Set aside.
Drain and chop the olives, stem and mince the parsley, mix together with bread crumbs and pepper flakes, moisten with cognac. Balance the bread crumbs and the cognac to get a moist but not dense stuffing mixture.
Stuff the cavity of each calamar. Depending on the size of the beast, you can seal it by sewing the open end, skewering it with a toothpick, or tuck in the open end on all sides so it makes a little package. I prefer this last method as it makes a better presentation at the table.
Line them up side by side in a greased shallow earthenware oven dish. Cover with the following sauce:
Brown 2 cloves of garlic in 4 tablsp. of olive oil, remove the garlic and add one 14.5 oz./411 gr. can of plain diced tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes and pour over the calamar. Sprinkle with a scant handful of bread crumbs.
Bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes, or until tender. Serve whole with sauce.
I don't know where this recipe came from; I've been making it a long time. The Italians do a number of things with calamar but I've never seen this particular dish in Italy.
I have a suspicion it is my own recipe. If so, it is hardly a classic and you can change it to your heart's content. Add onions or mushrooms, sprinkle it with parmasan or feta cheese, use red wine instead of the cognac --- be my guest. You may want to use giant pasta shells instead of calamar. Oh, well, (sigh) it might be interesting to try it just once the way it is presented.