Zia’s Baked Calamari

Calamari Cotti della Zia

St. Joseph’s Feast Day is just around the corner (March 19th) and what better way to celebrate than to share one of the few remaining Bartolini recipes, Zia’s Baked Calamari.

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Baked Calamari 6

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The 12 of us living together in the two-flat were treated to some exceptional cooking, courtesy of Mom, Zia, and Nonna. We all had our favorites, to be sure, and I’ve made no attempt to hide my never-ending love of Bartolini ravioli. Even so, Zia’s baked calamari is the one dish that reigns supreme in several of our hearts,. You can be sure that when that platter is set on the table, photos will be snapped and dispatched to those not present. The caption is guaranteed to read something like, “Look what we had for dinner.” When not included, the “Nyeah, nyeah!” is implied.

Now that I know how they’re prepared, it all seems so easy. Getting here, though, was tortuous, leaving a trail of barely edible cephalopods in my wake. From over-stuffing the tubes with breading that was far too oily to roasting them at too high a temperature and for too long, if there was a mistake to be made, I found and made it — sometimes more than once. Finally I made it a point to stay in her kitchen and watch Zia perform every step of the process, even grabbing a bit of breading to get a feel for the amount of oil needed. And then it happened. I got it right. I’ve not been so happy with a dish since I made my first batch of our family ravioli. I am very happy to say that calamari is now a frequent guest of honor at my dinner table.

Since that momentous dinner, I have made a couple modest changes to the original recipe, adding a garlic clove to the stuffing and some lemon juice to the baking dish just before placing it in the oven. You can easily skip both if you like. Otherwise, you’ll find that the stuffing is very similar to the breading used in several of my family’s recipes. Zia adds a bit of lemon juice and the chopped tentacles to the mixture. No need to include the latter if you don’t want them.

Now, as I so painfully learned, here are the problems to avoid. Do not over saturate the filling with olive oil. It should be moist to the touch, not sopping wet. Fill, do not stuff, the tubes. Calamari shrink while being baked and, If too heavily stuffed, much of the excess will spill out. When properly filled, the tubes will shrink around the filling without any being lost. Lastly, raising the oven temperature will result in over-cooked calamari with under-cooked filling. (Been there, there, and, yes, even there.)

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Happy St. Joseph’s Feast Day, everyone!

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Baked Calamari Filling

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Baked Calamari Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs calamari, fresh or frozen, cleaned (tentacles optional)
  • 2 cups plain bread crumbs – Panko may be substituted
  • half cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated (optional)
  • enough olive oil to moisten the bread crumbs – should not be sopping wet
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh lemon juice (optional)

Directions

  1. Clean the calamari, if necessary. Make sure to remove the beak located in the center of the tentacles. (See Notes)
  2. Chop the tentacles, if using.
  3. Combine all the ingredients, except for the calamari tubes, and mix well.
  4. Use the breading mixture to fill the calamari tubes. Do not overfill. The tubes will shrink while cooking.
  5. Place filled calamari in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled or sprayed with cooking spray.
  6. Sprinkle excess breading mixture on top of the calamari. (See Notes)
  7. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and, if you like, a little lemon juice.
  8. Place in a pre-heated 350˚ F (175˚C) for 35 to 40 minutes. (See Notes)
  9. Serve immediately.

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Baked Calamari 5

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Notes

I was unable to capture the process but you can watch a chef clean whole squid right HERE.

In the past, I’ve mentioned that rubbery calamari will result when not cooked quickly or for at least 45 minutes. Here, because they’re baked, a few minutes have been shaved off the cooking time. The calamari will be slightly crisp instead of being chewy.

In the highly unlikely event that there are leftovers, I like to slice them into rings and use them when I prepare pasta aglio e olio. Just follow the pasta recipe and add the calamari to the pan of seasoned oil when you add the pasta. When the pasta is ready, the calamari will be heated through.

The breading remnants in the baking dish are worth their weight in gold. Gather and place them in a sealable plastic bag to be stored in the freezer. Use them to garnish a future seafood pasta dish in place of cheese. They will add plenty of flavor to your pasta and all you need do is reach into the freezer to retrieve a bag.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Easter Bread Deja Vu

WIth Easter fast approaching, why not take a look at a bread that’s traditionally prepared in Marchigiani homes for the holy day? The recipe comes from King Arthur Flour’s website but it is very reminiscent of a loaf that my Nonna made for her two young daughters, Mom and my Zia. You can learn all about it just by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Trenette with Clams and Mussels Preview

Trenette with Mussels and Clams

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130 thoughts on “Zia’s Baked Calamari

  1. Happy St Joseph’s Day, John – and thank you! This will be the first time for me to cook my beloved and oft used calamari long! But I have stuffed them often and am taking note of every one of your admonitions to get matters right the first time 🙂 ! Love to use the tentacles so hope I can find some fresh . . . for some reason I have always loved cleaning calamari and cuttlefish and octopi – perhaps the child in me likes making a mess!! I wonder whether panko crumbs will do and, knowing me and my friends, I would like to add another clove of garlic and a wee bit more parsley and taste for the lemon juice ’cause I use Meyers . . . Wish me luck and I’ll let you know if successful or quietly try, try again . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Eha! Yes, I agree about the tentacles, although I’d rather not have to clean the little devils if I can avoid it. Thanks for mentioning Panko breadcrumbs. That is pretty much all Zia uses these days, now that I’ve introduced her to them. I need to update the post and will once I finish this response. You’re a good cook and I doubt you’ll have any problem following the recipe. Like I said, it’s easy for me now. 🙂
      Have a great week!

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      • Next afternoon – and I am amused 🙂 ! Things seem to grow bigger Down Under!! I have bought calamari from a number of places but never had them smaller [going back to your measurements] than about 6-7 inches for the body and almost the same again for the tentacles. Would not know how to stuff them were they smaller and I have very petite hands 🙂 ! Bought frozen: same size!!! The cuttlefish are often larger than that with far longer tentacles of course. Besides large octopi so lovely for Greek recipes cooked long in garlicky tomatoey sauces I can now buy baby ones for marinating and grilling, barely to be seared: lemony and peppery for me . . . about 6-8 for a serve . . .just thinking . . .

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry, Dear.I forgot all about this comment at the top of the section. Oops!

          We, too, can get larger calamari relatively easily. This was all my mistake. I normally buy them fresh but these were frozen because I would be bringing them to Zia’s. They were packed in the blue box like I always buy for her. Once home, I placed them in the freezer and it wasn’t until I went to pack them for my trip to Michigan that I realized that the only thing like the squid I once bought was the blue box. These squid were uncleaned and smaller. I didn’t bring them with me and I’ve been using them whenever. Now they’re gone and I’m going to be far more careful when I buy them for her.
          I, too, love octopus and want to experiment grilling them. Once the weather warms, I’m give it a shot. Hope you’re having a great weekend, my friend. It’s time for my nightcap. Cheers! 🙂

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  2. That is delicious John! I am shamelessly drooling over it. The filling reminds me a bit of the Spanish migas de pan. I’m sure it makes a very crunchy filling too. I normally stuff my calamari with herbs, a bit of rice and their tentacles, then treat them to an 40min in the pot with some tomato sauce. I am extremely keen on the lemony version, hopefully I will get my hands on them soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Eugenia. I am glad that you liked our way of cooking calamari. We’ve also stewed them in tomato sauce, in umido, but it’s not been done in ages. This version is the family favorite by far. When you do try them, I hope you enjoy the as much as we all do.

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  3. Those calamari look superb, John! Congrats on mastering them. This post clearly shows that recipes that may seem simple, aren’t as simple to execute to perfection. I remember making something similar years ago, and your post reminds me I should make them again. Grazie 🙂

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    • Hello, Mandy. Be sure to let me know if you do make our calamari. I’ll take it off the menu to be prepared when you visit. Not to worry. There’s still plenty to be prepared and served. You won’t go home hungry. 🙂

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  4. Ooh that looks amazing John and reminds me just how long it’s been since I cooked squid. No excuse not to as we now have two fantastic fishmongers in Bexhill-on-Sea and good old Fish Man in Spain. My mum and dad now live close to us in Bexhill-on-Sea but still have a base in London. They went to London yesterday and will come back with lots of lovely bread and big bags of fresh breadcrumbs from the Italian bakery so I’ll be able to make these in a day or so!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it wonderful that your parents are nearby, Tanya. Their keeping a place in London makes things so convenient for you all. You have a fantasy life, surrounded by family and fishmongers. 🙂
      I do hope that when you make Zia’s calamari, that you enjoy them. Zia will be thrilled to learn that you’ve made some.

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  5. Oooo, these look scrumptious and I can’t wait to try making them. I had a friend from Modena who used to do something similiar but would grill the squid instead of bake it. How she managed I don’t know and I was only a girl of 10 then so wasn’t interested in the cooking side of the picture, just the eating ! Maybe she grilled the squid and then added the toasted and seasoned bread crumbs? whatever. Thank you so much for this recipe.

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  6. Happy St. Joseph’s Day! And what a feast you’ve prepared for the, well, feast. 🙂 I’m pretty good at doing a quick calamari saute, but always worry when I oven them. Mainly, wondering whether they’ll turn out rubbery. Glad your instructions are so explicit — will follow them exactly when I make this. And yes, garlic for me, please.

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    • Thanks, John. Hope you and the Mrs. have a great holiday, too.
      I know what you mean about baking calamari. Even now, I’m not sure about whether they’ve been overcooked until I taste the first one. I’ve had so many failures that I doubt I’ll ever relax with this dish.

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  7. Leave the garlic out? I don’t think so. I’m on the side of “where’s the garlic?” Breading can be tricky and I never knew that calamari shrinks when cooked … good tip. This sounds great, John, and worthy of a family gathering. 🙂

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    • I like how you think, Judy. That’s precisely the reason why I added a clove in the first place. Oh, yes, calamari will shrink when baked like this. It is really disheartening to pull them out of the oven and see so much of the filling you worked so hard to stuff into the tubes has been forced out as they shrank. This recipe is a mine filed but the payoff, the finished dish, makes it so worthwhile. 🙂

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  8. e andiamo con i calamari di zia! Succulenti, saporiti mhhhhhhhh, una vera prelibatezza, queste fantastiche ricette sono al contempo semplici e difficili, basta fare un piccolo errore e se ne perde gusto e sapore, ma seguendo le ricette della zia, questo non succederà maiiiiiiiiiii
    sempre un grande piacere passare da queste parti, e sempre un grande onore riceverti nella mia casa
    ciaooooooooooooo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grazie mille, Ventis. You are very kind and also correct It is very easy to make a mistake and ruin the calamari. You can not go wrong, however, when you follow ZIa’s recipe. She knows best! 🙂

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  9. Happy St. Joseph’s Day, John! These stuffed calamari remind me of our honeymoon in Greece, specifically the seaside town of Chania in Crete. We sat outside next to the harbor and enjoyed the best stuffed calamari…or any preparation of calamari…that I have ever had. It seemed so simple and yet so good, and my memory says that Zia’s and your preparation is very similar. I may have to venture to the farmer’s market and get some squid soon so that I can try this and see. 🙂 Regardless of similarity, it looks divine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a coincidence! I, too, visited Chania and stayed in a flat overlooking that harbor. It was part of a trip that took me to several of the islands. What a holiday! Yes, the calamari was exceptionally good, as was the octopus. Well, everything I tasted was very good.
      I don’t know how this dish will compare to those in your memory but I don’t think you’ll be at all disappointed. I’d love to hear what you think. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Such a mouthwatering dish! I for one would never say no to more garlic and lemon…:)
    Thanks for describing the failures as well as the success with this recipe. Most “simple” recipes are usually the hardest to make. How great it is that you could watch Zia and capture the real deal…
    It reminded me of a somewhat similar experience, with a traditional Sephardic pastry called Boyos (recipe in my blog). If I hadn’t seen my mother and aunt making it, I would not get a real understanding of how the dough should look like and how the process of stretching it was done. Not to mention I had to measure how much flour they actually used, as their instructions called for “as much as needed” amount… 😀

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  11. What lovely pictures! I’m desperate to try this as I have a bag of frozen (gulp) calamari languishing in the freezer. But….my calamari is only about 2 inches long so what do you suggest for cooking time? If I buy them fresh they are about a foot long and way too scary!! So far I’ve only cooked calamari really quickly so an oven cook would be a first for me. How lovely to have authentic family recipes too.:)

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    • Thank you.
      Yes, other recipes that I’ve shared so far have cooked calamari in seconds and certainly not this long. Even so, the saying is to cook calamari for 45 seconds or 45 minutes. Anything in-between will be rubbery. As I mentioned in the post, we shaved off some time because roasting makes the calamari grow crispy not rubbery. I do not envy you trying to stuff small calamari tubes. I’m too fat-fingered to accomplish that feat. Mine are usually 3 to 4 inches. I think that you could probably shave about 5 to 7 minutes off of the cooking time I specified in the recipe. I’m leery of suggesting you cut more time because the stuffing has to be cooked through, especially if you chop and include the tentacles. It’s not sushi. 😀

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          • Hi John, I would just like to say that we all really enjoyed this. We had lots of little dishes and your recipe was one of them. Let’s just say that everyone grabbed some and it was the first empty dish! I added some lemon zest with the juice and will definitely be using this as a regular entertaining dish. I think my French neighbours will approve too! Thank you for sharing :):)

            Liked by 1 person

          • I am so happy to read this. Better still, I just ended a phone call with Zia and she, too, is quite pleased. There are 2 of you that prepared her calamari since I posted the recipe, both with great results. Whew!
            I must say, though, Amanda — may I call you Amanda? — that I give you an A+ for courage. I rarely try a new recipe for dinner guests and certainly not one like this calamari. You are fearless! Hats off to you!
            Thank you for coming back to tell me of your experience. You’ve made 2 Bartolini very happy.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. This really is a great dish and a wonderful way to end you calamari fast. I would suggest getting to your fishmonger sooner rather than later. I anticipate a run on calamari because you’re not the only one talking about trying the dish. 🙂

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  12. If you’d asked me, John, I could have told you. The only way is to sit at the kitchen table and take notes. People like my mum and your Zia, I’m sure get vague when you ask questions.its a pinch of this and that, don’t you know.
    Nothing tastes sweeter than recapturing a childhood memory.

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    • Mary, you are so right. Mom would get so frustrated with me for asking things like “How big is a handful?” of cheese, breadcrumbs or whatever. When Zia taught me to make sausage, I weighed the ingredients before and after the sausage making to make sure I had the amounts correct. It worked and I’ve been happily making sausage ever since.
      You’re right, too, about recapturing childhood memories. I was rather surprised when I started blogging to learn just how many memories from my youth were brought to mind when ZIa and I discussed this or that recipe. It was almost as if each recipe had its own memories — for both of us. Conquering this one really was a personal triumph — and a relief to the many schools of squid that wouldn’t be sacrificed for my “education”. 🙂

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    • Oh, I hope you were able to get some, Sandra. I avoid the real small ones. My fingers are too fat to stuff them. I am of the belief that it is easier to get larger calamari than it is to lose enough weight to get skinny fingers. 🙂

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  13. Oh, my, doesn’t that look delicious? I was just looking at some lovely small calamari at the grocery the other day and wondering what I could do with it. Now I know! Hope there’s still some at the store when I go back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed today’s recipe, Abbe. Zias baked calamari is truly the favorite of many within my generation of Bartolini. Thank you, too for purchasing our cookbook and I’m thrilled to hear that you’re enjoying it. I’m sure Zia that will feel the same way, too. 🙂

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  14. I’ve eaten lots of calamari in my day, but I’ve never seen baked, stuffed tubes!!! This is going on the list for our potential Christmas Eve dinner items this year. The kids will flip for this and I think even want to help make them! Who wouldn’t want to play with calamari tubes!! But perhaps we should make this even sooner just to be sure. 😉 I don’t know that I can wait until Christmas Eve. You always make me so hungry John!

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    • I am so glad to hear that the Sous Chefs would like this dish. Better still, that they’d help. Depending on the size of calamari you select. you may need little fingers to fill the tubes. My advice is to avoid the extremes. I don’t like using ones that are really big — and there are some huge ones out there — nor really small. They’ll shrink in the oven to appetizer size. Any idea how many bite-sized calamari it will take to feed a family of 4? I sure don’t! 🙂
      I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your choosing one of our recipes for your Christmas Eve dinners. Thanks, Kristy .. of should I say, “Dziękuję Ci” 😀

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  15. Hi John, I read your post the other day and thought, “I do need to try that”. You see, most times when I go to a restaurant, I order squid as I love it but never cook it at home. Then, today, I was looking for something for dinner. I picked a cookbook off my shelf and it fell open to “salt and pepper squid”. The recipe had quite detailed instructions on how to treat the squid so I decided to bite the bullet and try it. It worked a treat so now I may be ready to try yours. Tell me, how big were your tubes? They look tiny compared to the ones I was dealing with today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Glenda. I’m so glad you’re willing to give this a try. Speaking from one who’s made every mistake possible, what’s the worst that can happen? You really have to try to end up with inedible calamari. Kinda rubbery? Yes, but certainly not inedible.
      The calamari will shrink in the oven, unlike those braised in a stew or sauce. Here, mine were about 3 – 4 inches (7.5 – 1- cm) and I had a hard time getting my fat fingers into the tubes. What yo see are the finished, shrunken product. Ideally, I look for those that are no smaller than 4 inches and primarily 5 – 6 inches (about 13 – 15 cm). They are sometimes sold by count, like shrimp, but I lost the chart that I once had. If I locate it or find another, I will certainly tell you the size of those that I normally select. I hope this helps. Let me know if you’ve any other questions. I’d be glad to help.

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  16. John, I am late to comment, although I read the post when you had just published it…. I am soooo afraid of cooking calamari that you know how many times I’ve made it? ZERO.

    back when I was doing my PhD in Brazil a technician from a lab next door used to make stuffed calamari, Portuguese version and have this huge dinner party for over 20 people – I will never forget it was delicious, but she worked very very hard

    your recipe brought me memories of those days… decades ago….. good times!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stuffed calamari for 20 people?!?!? Tell me, did that technician have a halo? It sure sounds like she worked a miracle getting that dinner together.
      C’mon, Sally, You are far too good a cook to let a few tentacle wielding fishies get in your way. What’s the worst that could happen? Chewy calamari? Been there far too many times to count. But I learned with each failure and now those days are safely in the past.
      Look for tubes in the 5 to 6 inch range. They’re not so big to be tough nor so small that you cannot stuff them. Best of all, they won’t shrink down to an inch once cooked. That can be so disappointing, spending all that time filling the tubes and pulling the tray from the oven to find bite-sized morsels. Been there, too. Feel free to come back here if you have any questions. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      • she was an incredible woman… very hard working. Unfortunately I know she passed away years ago. She had the energy of the Energizer Bunny.. I will keep your advice in mind, I know Phil would love this recipe!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. This sounds like some fun times! Baking it like this is indeed a delicate process. If you overcook them they end up rubbery if you mess up the stuffing it tastes soggy, etc. I used to clean squid when I was a fish monger as an after school job in high school. Now I can only really cut them, I think I’ve lost all my skill and if I were to make baked calamari, I’d do it step by step as you lay out. Yours look perfect and you seemed to have learned all of the mistakes through trial and error. Lovely looking recipe. It sounds so much fun when you do it in a group.

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    • Your insights make me wonder if you’ve been in my kitchen. Before you answer that, please except my apologies for any/all of the expletives I may have uttered during the preparation and later eating of the rubber calamari. Now, with the disclaimer out of the way …
      I’m not so sure I could handle this dish being prepared in a group. Pizza, yes. Pasta and ravioli, yes. Lasagna, yes. If the tubes are on the small side, the stuffing can be very frustrating. By the time the calamari made their way into the oven, I wouldn’t want to sit at the table with these cranky people. 😀

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    • If your John loves calamari, he’s going to go nuts over these. Really. Maybe one day, instead of making ravioli, we stuff calamari. You’re going to need a lot if you intend to feed everyone on the farmy. 🙂

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  18. I could imagine you in Zia’s kitchen refining your technique while testing your own additions to the recipe. What a wonderful family legacy you have in the memories associated with your mom, aunt and grandmother and their abundant cooking, John. Such a treasure. I’ve only had fried calamari, and to be honest, never even considered another way to serve it. I struggle with words like “tentacle” in any recipe, I admit. LOL! But it honestly looks delicious. And thank you for the bread recipe. I really do enjoy baking (and eating) bread! This would be a very timely loaf to honor the season. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think about this often, Debra. I’ve learned so much in her kitchen. It’s been an amazing journey for us and never once has she said that this recipe or that one is a family secret. Talking about recipes did bring to mind family stories but sometimes in the strangest ways. When I found the KAF recipe for the bread you like, Zia suddenly remembered her mother preparing a similar loaf at Easter when she and Mom were little girls. This whole experience has been remarkable for us all.

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    • You are such a good cook, Fae, that you shouldn’t have any problems with this recipe at all. Should you try them, I hope you’ll let me know your impressions. Good luck!

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  19. It looks delicious and I love the originality of the recipe. I’ve never cooked calamari but with all the information you gave, it feels like an easier task. I’d definitely like to serve this at a dinner party.

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  20. lovely stuff + fish cookery in le Marche is amongst the best in Italy and very personal, perhaps because le Marche is a strange land of transition from central Italy to the south… lovely lovely area, people and food.
    + did your family ever prepared zeppole di san giuseppe for st joseph’s day? they are very traditional in southern Italy, perhaps not in le marche.. basically fried choux pastry, then topped with crema pasticcera and amarene
    + I love cheese crescia di pasqua. I have just compared the version from the KAF site and the one you can find in Hazan’s Marcella cucina: haziness version is much richer in cheese. it is beautiful. if there is anyone interested I can send the recipe. thanks for the calamari dish. stefano

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    • Yes, I was aware that the cuisine of March is a mix of northern and southern Italian cuisines. We have the best of both worlds. Zia cooked primarily marchigiani dishes for her family while Mom learned to cook several sammarinese recipes for my Dad. I’m sure their cooking is a big part of why I so enjoy cooking today.
      I don’t recall ever seeing zeppole prepared at home, no matter the occasion. I do remember guests bringing them to us but that wasn’t very often. Mom did fry up some fiocchetti for Carnivale but that was about it.
      I bet Marcella’s recipe is closer to the one that Nonna made all those decades ago. We never did get the recipe, it was lost long ago. In fact, the only reason Zia remembered it at all was when I prepared the KAF loaf for her. Would you mind sending the recipe to me? You can do it here or use my contact page. Whichever is easiest for you. There is no rush. I won’t visit Zia until May. When I do, though, I would love to bake that bread for her. Thank you so much for your generosity, Stefano. I very much appreciate it. 😉

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  21. Pingback: Baked Calamari Recipe | ARTE, PINTURA, LITERATU...

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  23. Haha! Yes, you know a meal is a success when people take photos and either (A) post them on Instagram or (B) send them to friends to rub it in. My husband is notorious for that, and it pleases me to no end.

    I like this bread-coating mixture you’ve shared today. I’ve never made one with this combination, but I think I’ll give it a go. I suspect it would work with any fish, or even chicken? Also, a great tip to freeze the leftover crumbs – thanks!

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    • An even bigger success, Ruth, because this practice predates Instagram. We took the pics, uploaded them, and sent out emails. Seems like ages ago but it really wasn’t. Like you, it pleases Zia, too. 🙂
      We use this breading for plenty of things. Halve tomatoes, eggplants, and small onions and roast them until the breading browns. Use it on top of fish fillets and bake. I’ve posted a few of the recipes. If you perform a serach ofr “bread crumbs” you should see many of them. For my tastes, though, this breading found its calling when used to fill calamari. 😀

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  24. John – please thank Zia for us! This was incredible. We just had it tonight for dinner. I took a picture and will send it to you via email. The first (and every) bite made us both feel like we were in Italy… Thanks! Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

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    • Thank her? David, I’ll forward your email to her. She’ll be thrilled, just as I am, to hear that you’ve already prepared her calamari. You’re going to make her day and for that, I thank you. 🙂

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      • As soon as I saw the post, I knew I had to make it… I could just tell that it is the kind of beautifully simple and authentic Italian recipe we get along the coastal areas. Sadly, I only made a third of a recipe – three per person. We could have eaten he entire recipe ourselves. And now, on his day, happy St. Joseph’s Day! My Zio Joe would always bring us donuts on his name day…

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        • I just now got off of the phone with Zia. She was very pleased to hear that you’ve already prepared her calamari and that it reminded you of the dishes you were served in Italy. I just love relaying this kind of comment to her. Being American born, that’s probably the highest compliment one can give her. Thank you so much, David.
          PS … Dinner tonight? Lamb khorma. 🙂

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          • I am so glad, John. I spent the weekend cooking off friends’ blogs – it was fun. I have a few more of yours to make in the next few weeks. Nice to have some variety!

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  25. Pingback: Salt and pepper squid | Passion Fruit Garden

  26. You’re such a great storyteller John. Love hearing of your family cooking experiences, even years after starting my journey in the ‘Bartolini kitchens’! I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this to you but my paternal grandmother hated cooking (and she was terrible at it, I don’t know if that was because she hated it or vice versa!) and my maternal grandmother lives in a different country (and can’t speak English) so I never had the opportunity to learn from either of them. My mum’s not the biggest lover of cooking either so I’ve pretty much taught myself (with help from cookbooks and blogs like yours!). I do think it’s such a privilege to be able to practice, record and share family recipes, so big thanks to you, Zia and your mum for making us feel like ‘extended members of the family’ through the sharing of your family cookbook 🙂
    As for this calamari? Aaron LOVES calamari and I never really cook it (not being a fan myself). However, your detailed cooking notes make me feel inclined to cook this as a special treat for Aaron over the weekend (being Easter, we usually eat seafood), with your inclusions of the lemon and garlic. Thanks so much for sharing! P.S Love your and David’s conversation above, so cool to share and tell Zia how much we love her recipes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Laura. I’ll be sure to pass along your kind words to Zia when we speak next. Neither Zia nor myself ever expected our family recipes to be so well-received. I think it’s incredible you’re such a great cook and with so little help from the women in your family. You’re amazing! If your Aaron loves calamari, he’s sure to love these, too. Please let me know how it goes. As you know from my conversation with David, Zia will love to hear all about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will definitely let you know! And I guess I’m one of those people who gets obsessed about something… when I was little it was art, then it became food/cooking and it’s stayed that way. Lucky that most people like to eat! 😉 Thanks so much for the encouragement, John!

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  27. Ohhhh, this calamari looks fabulous, John! So much better for me than the fried variety too. I have calamari in my freezer… wasn’t sure how I wanted to prepare it… now I know! Thanks for solving my conundrum!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Nancy but do yourself a favor. Say no more about baking calamari until after the fact. There are too many members of my family still living in Michigan. If they get wind that you’re preparing baked calamari, you may find the lot of them on your doorstep. Mum’s the word. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  28. The only way I’ve ever eaten calamari is fried. I know, so very boring. 🙂 This dish has really caught me interest. Love everything about it John! Thanks for the inspiration to try something new.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome, MJ. I have to admit that all of this talk of Zia’s calamari has me wanting to make a batch. I don’t know what next week may bring but I’m pretty certain that it will include a trip to the fishmonger. 🙂

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  29. We will definitely have to make this! Fried calamari is a family favorite when we go out. The boys can get vicious and one order is rarely enough! I’ve always thought of making it at home and this looks like the perfect recipe for me, I’m not big into frying so baking would be perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you like the recipe, Gretchen. I do hope that you prepare them. I’m very interested in hearing your resident food critics’ reviews. As for the fried, I started making my own several years ago and haven’t ordered calamari since. I really don’t fry much anymore but make an exception for calamari. Besides, at home I can have a double order and no one will ever know. Well, the dog knows but he’ll keep quiet so long as I toss him a couple. 🙂

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  30. These really do look incredible John and love the crispy golden crumbs sprinkled over top, can just imagine the texture and flavour! I’ll be making this for the family soon for sure! Can I ask what you would serve it with? I’m guessing a salad would work well, but love know what you and Zia would choose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Margot. Calamari shrink while in the oven, more so than any other preparation. It is, therefore, hard to make them the centerpiece for a family’s dinner. It’s a different story when serving only one or two people. As you may have noticed in the last calamari photo, that night we served a pasta as a side. As I recall, it was a version of aglio e olio that included broccoli crowns. You could also use asparagus or just about any veggie that you like. Risotto works well, too. Of course, a salad is always included. Zia won’t serve a meal without a salad being presented, as well as bread. At 93 years young, I think she may be onto something!
      Feel free to ask whatever questions you have, Margot, and I’ll be sure to get back to you ASAP. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I would suggest serving them as a side for the first time, Kat. They do shrink while being baked and, not knowing how many are going to be seated at your table, I think it best to plan on a few per person. WIth one batch under your belt — in every sense — you can better judge for the next time. In fact, 2 commenters have already tried the recipe and both served them as sides. I do hope you give them a try. I am sure you’re going to love them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Pingback: The Spiralizer Chronicles, Chapter 2: Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Pancetta, Clams and Shrimp | from the Bartolini kitchens

  32. Pingback: Baked Stuffed Calamari | Please Pass the Recipe

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