Sunday, February 27, 2011

Calamari Bruschetta

It has been more than 2 months since I've posted my last recipe, but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking up a storm! The many weeks of my absence have been full of small life changes such as moving across the country, starting a new job, and getting acclimated to a new apartment in a new city with a new culture. The shock hasn't really set in yet, but to say I've been feeling mildly disoriented would be putting it lightly. Couple my disorientation with the fact that my computer has 15 gigs of photos and videos slowing it down, the thought of adding some more is just downright daunting. Before you start getting all "an external hard drive would solve your problem and relieve your agony" on me, let me tell you that it's on my radar but ugg, could all of these moving costs just go away already?

Alright. Enough whining. More recipe-ing.

Being so close to the ocean, Philadelphia grocery stores and markets offer an array of sea creatures for purchase. I've been eying the crab, drooling at the shrimp, and swooning at the salmon, but all just seem to be a little pricey for a budget-conscious gal like myself. My solution? Calamari! At just $4 per pound, I selected two from a street market and it only ended up setting me back $1.67.

Today I'm featuring a dish that was inspired by a favorite appetizer of mine at Angelina's in Chicago. Squid is usually cooked rapidly so as to prevent the rubber band effect that can occur when overcooked. Interestingly, my research informed me that when calamari is cooked slowly, it becomes increasingly tender over time.

This is a very simple recipe that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It's full of tomatoey goodness (so if your boyfriend has heartburn issues like mine, it's best enjoyed with a glass of milk and some antacids). Feel free to add more mild, cooked vegetables (like diced carrots or sauteed spinach) to up the vitamin count. In a nutshell: this is low-calorie and protein-packed dish that happens to be down-right, unarguably, very delicious.
The Stuff:
  • non-stick olive oil cooking spray
  • medium-sized skillet

The Edibles:
  • 2 hand-length calamari, or about 1/4 to 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen calamari rings
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch (or two) of dried cayenne pepper
  • hearty shake of dried oregano and basil (or fresh basil, if you're lucky and didn't kill your plant like I did)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

The Making:
  1. Prepare fresh calamari by slicing into rings. (Follow these instructions if you're feeling uneasy about it.)
  2. Spray a skillet with olive oil non-stick spray; place skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the onion begins to turn translucent.
  3. Add the squid and saute for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wine, cayenne pepper, spices, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down low and cover. Cook uncovered on low heat for 15 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for an additional 15 minutes.
  5. Remove bay leaf. Serve hot with fresh bread as an appetizer for 3-4 people; alternatively, serve over pasta (such as linguine) as an entree.

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