mell can trigger some incredibly vivid memories in the kitchen. What seemed like nothing more than an ordinary weeknight prepping dinner soon turned into dreams of swimming around La Marina Piccola off the shear cliffs of Capri. Lemons, herbs, ripe grapes and the salt of the sea! If only time travel were so easy…
Here’s an example: I grilled Calamari the other night (my preffered preperation for any cephalopod). The aroma wafting up thru the grill’s smoke was intoxicating, reminiscent of the ports of Palermo, the sheer stairs of Riomaggiore, or the shores of Capri where I had the roasted calamari above. In each town I sampled some of the finest seafood I’ve ever had, and using similar ingredients (and some help frome the ole Shna’zola) I created the dish below. It’s not Capri, but it’s the next best thing. Ahhh, la semplicità della cucina del mare…
Calamari alla Piastra
1 lb Calamari (body and tentacles)
2 Thin Slices Prosciutto or Ham
1-2 Cups Fresh Bread Crumbs
1 Handful Chopped Parsley
Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil
First things first: make your breadcrumbs. This dish would be ruined if you used the store bought, tin can breadcrumbs. Chop a couple thick slices of crusty bread like ciabatta or baguette into a food pro and pulse until they resemble the size of rice.
Rinse your Calamari and pat dry. Chop the tentacles and Prosciutto into little pieces, like the breadcrumbs, and combine in a bowl with the breadcrumbs and parsley. Add a small drizzle of oil and mix to combine. Season to taste.
Using a piping bag (if you wanna look fancy) or using a small spoon, fill the Calamari bodies with the breadcrumb mixture. Don’t smash it in, just lightly fill the bodies until full and tuck the mix in with your thumb so it doesn’t fall out once they hit the grill. Lightly oil your stuffed calamari and toss around in the remaining breadcrumbs (you should have about 1/4 cup left depending on the size of your Calamari).
Spark Notes: 1. Make breadcrumbs, 2. Add some stuff to the breadcrumbs, 3. Fill Calamari, 4. Toss in Oil and Breadcrumbs, 5. Grill
Grill your Calamari on a smoking hot piastra (flat stone) for 1-2 minute per side. If you don’t have a piastra or pizza stone, grilling on the grates will work but you’ll miss out on all the crunchy bits of breadcrumb and prosciutto clinging to the calamari. The exterior should be golden brown and crunchy while the bready mixture inside is warm and tender after absorbing all the Calamari’s natural juices.
Collect all of the crunchy breadcrumbs, sprinkle on top of the plated calamari and serve with a lemon wedge, a little drizzle of good olive oil, cracked black pepper, and a grilled contorno like the green beans above (also tossed in the breadcrumb mix).
It’s no secret that I love seafood (just look at my recipes) but this one holds a special place in my heart. Che profumi, it’s everything I miss about the Mediterranean.