Fresh Squids stuffed with cured pancetta, rice, onion, garlic and mini bell pepper dices on a wine-paprika tomato sauce.Fresh Squids stuffed with cured pancetta, rice, onion, garlic and mini bell pepper dices on a wine-paprika tomato sauce.

Spanish Style Stuffed Squids

The Catalan gastronomy has a ton of “surf and turf” traditional dishes for example the meatball with squids, the chicken and crayfish, the mar y montaña paella, etc. They call it : Mar y Montaña which translate to sea and mountain. This recipe is inspired by the Catalan surf and turf, although instead of using the traditional ground meat I’ve used a stuffing of rice, cured pancetta, onion, garlic and bell pepper dices. The sauce is an easy traditional one of fried tomato paste, garlic and paprika with a touch of white wine (or water) and a few flat leaves of parsley for the final touch. This recipe is my personal twist on the Catalan Surf and Turf, it’s not a traditional dish, however similar in taste.

Spanish Style Stuffed Squids

A Catalan Tradition

The Catalans are the kings at mixing up sea products and the land ones, thanks to their geographical situation. The first “Mar y Montaña” style meal I’ve ever tried in Catalonia was the albondigas con sepia, meatballs and cuttlefish. It was an odd combination for me at first but once the first bite was in, I understood why those dishes are so popular in Catalonia. They are fantastic! I know there are many sceptics out there, and it’s fine, surf and turf isn’t for everyone but before you say “no” for eternity. I highly suggest you to try any great Catalan dish and if you are still not convinced, then you’ll be able to surrender…  In my opinion Catalans make those combos of proteins like no one else does!

So let’s make some Mar y Montaña magic happen!

Mar y Montaña Stuffed Squids

stuffed calamari surf and turfIngredients
  • 6 medium size squids
  • 100g of cooked rice
  • 60g of cured pancetta cut into small dices
  • 1/2 onion cut into small dices
  • 1/4 bell pepper cut into small dices
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
The tomato sauce
  • 100g of tomato paste (tomato frito)
  • 75ml of white wine or water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of spicy paprika
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Start by cleaning up the squids (check this video for more details)
  2. Cook the rice in water or use leftover rice
  3. Cut all the ingredients for the filling
  4. In a small pan, soften the onions for 5 minutes in some olive oil at medium high heat
  5. Add the garlic, pancetta, pepper, salt and pepper and mix it all together with the rice
  6. Stuff the squids pushing down gently to fill the whole pocket, close the end with a moist wooden toothpick
  7. Add all the ingredients of the sauce at the bottom of an ovenproof pot, mix
  8. Add the stuffed squids over the tomato sauce and top with a touch of olive oil and salt
  9. Cook at 180°C (350F) for 25 minutes until the squid are turning golden
  10. Serve with a few freshly cut parsley leaves



Spanish Style Stuffed Squids

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceCalamari on an Ink Linguine with a spicy tomato sauce is a great way to spice up your next dinner. If you always wondered how those black ink pasta taste like but never got the guts to buy it and try it out, this recipe will make you buy them over and over again. Everyone is scared of those ink meals for some reason…I guess it’s the fact of eating what you usually write with, it just doesn’t quite belong in a plate. But I assure you, it’s quite the opposite. Since I’ve been living in Spain, they use the ink of cuttlefish for many of their traditional meals like squids croquetas in their ink, the arroz negro (black cuttlefish paella) or those black ink linguine. This recipe comes from my cooking school, well… we had to make the fresh ink linguine by ourself, so in this case, to keep it simple, I’ve just bought a pack of dry black pasta. This way the recipe takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.blackcalpin

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceThe taste of ink might worry some of you, but it doesn’t feel anything like tarry, earthy or whatever you believe your pen tastes like… no.. it tastes like a salty mineral water, or to be more precise it tastes like the sea. Although, making yourself the pasta with the fresh ink makes the sea factor more present, if you are comfortable with making your own fresh pasta, you definitely should make it for this recipe and add a tbsp of squid ink to your mix.

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceFor this recipe, I’ve used pre cleaned frozen squids, no need to defrost them either, when they are frozen and hard, they are way easier to cut with the mandoline into fine rings. Once cut, let 10 minutes pass and you’ll see; how fast those magically defrost. Finish it up by simply drying them up with a paper towel and they are ready to fry. Frozen squid is super tender when fried quickly at high heat. The muscles fibres in the calamar break down when they are frosted which leave their meat super tender, the trick here is to fry them fast and hard in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes, if you over cook them, it’s when they will get chewy… If this happens, you can always save them back, by letting them cook slowly (let say in this case into the tomato sauce) until they become tender again, for about 10-15 minutes.

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceI’ve used the most popular “spicy” dried pepper from Spain called “Guindilla” which is used to make the spicy paprika. It is still a fairly moderate spicy pepper, which won’t overwhelmed the sauce. Those peppers give some of the most iconic Spanish recipes like the gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimps), the bacalao al pil pil (cod emulsified in spicy olive oil) or even the popular Basques pintxo (tapa) called Gilda (a pickled guindilla, anchovy and olive tapa). If you do not find those precise peppers at home, simply chose a mildly spicy pepper or a touch of cayenne pepper to spice up your tomato sauce. Also, another aromatic for the tomato sauce is a single fresh basil leave, which you add at the end of coccion to give the tomato sauce an extra aroma. You’ll have to discard it before serving.

Let’s make this sea flavored pasta!

Calamari Linguine on a spicy tomato sauce

Makes 4 portions

  • 400g of ink linguine 
  • 400g of cleaned frozen squids
  • 400g of tomato purée or crushed (I used a can)
  • 1 guindilla dry pepper (or mildly spicy pepper of your choice to your taste)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced (1 for the tomato sauce and 1 for the squid stir-fry)
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/4 of a bell pepper cut into small dices (topping)
  • virgin olive oil
  • flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceStart by cutting the frozen squid with the mandoline 5mm cut, let the rings unfreeze on a paper towel
  2. Make a small cut on the dry Guindilla pepper
  3. Add some olive oil in a sauce pan
  4. Add 1 minced garlic and guindilla pepper to medium high heat, to release their flavors for a minute
  5. Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceAdd the tomato purée, sugar, salt and pepper and let is simmer 5 minutes
  6. When the sauce is well infused, stop the fire, add the fresh basil leaf and cover
  7. Let it infuse for another 5 minutes
  8. During that time, cook the ink pasta in salty water
  9. In a wok or large pan, bring to high heat, add a 3 tbsp of olive oil
  10. When hot, add the squids (need to be really hot and enough oil)
  11. Add the other minced garlic, stir and cook for 3-4 minutes
  12. When done add the finely chopped parsley
  13. Serve the ink pasta on the spicy tomato sauce, topped with the garlic calamari, the pepper dices.

Serve with a lemon wedge and a touch of extra-virgin olive oil. Enjoy!

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauce

Squids a la plancha

Squids or Calamari are such a nice light meal, so simple and fast to make. Just need to heat up a pan to high heat, add the squids, cook for 2 minutes… That’s all!  Although, if is you cook them too long… they’ll get chewy… but you can save them by continuing cooking them into a nice fish, wine broth (you can filled them up with shrimp or else) for 15 minutes and they will get soft again. (15 min for medium size calamari of 10cm body length, longer if bigger)calamarpin

Squids a la planchaBack in Canada, I wouldn’t enjoy eating them, because they would often be tough and chewy, but here in Spain, when you pass in front of those clear eyes fresh calamari at the market, you have to stop and buy. They are so delicious and tender, no need to fry them into that fatty batter, simply cook them, and maybe filled them with croutons, add a little salt, garlic, flat leaf parsley and olive oil on top and voilà! In Spain, they have those really small calamari, the size of a nickel, which make great tapas. If you ever visit Spain, I highly recommend the “Calamar”, “Sepia”(Cuttlefish) or “Chipironnes” (small ones), even if you’re not a fan of it back home… you’ll see, you might suddenly change idea trying those spanish calamari.

This recipe is so simple, the only difference here; with a traditional calamari dish, is the fried croutons. I love some crunch with my squids but not the fried batter. So… I do a kind of reversed batter, which is healthier. Those croutons are optional of course, I simply fried cubes of leftover bread in little olive oil, add salt to them. That’s it!

So let’s make those tender and tasty sea creatures.

Calamari a la plancha

Makes 2 portions

ISquids a la planchangredients
  • 6 squids (medium sized; 10cm body)
  • leftovers of bread *optional
  • flat leave parsley
  • olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • salt
  1. Clean up the fresh squids, pull out the inside, keep just the tentacles, take the skin off (the fresher the Calamari the harder it is to take off the skin), the spine, the mouth and fins off
  2. Wash the inside and tentacles well
  3. *Some people make shallow cuts with a knife before cooking them, I don’t… you decide
  4. Bring pan to high heat
  5. Add 4 tbsp olive oil (at that point you can do your croutons)
  6. Add the squids, not more than 3 at the time, otherwise it’s won’t cook fast enough.
  7. Cook at high heat about 1 minute each side, until light brown (if oil disappear add more, since they like oil)
  8. Cook the legs until light brown (less than 2 minutes)
  9. Reserve,
  10. Add garlic to a mortar with salt and finely chopped parley, make into purée
  11. Add the 4 tbsp of olive oil and mix
  12. Add the croutons into the calamar, top with the parsley, garlic, olive oil sauce and voilà!

Serve with aïoli for extra smoothness and a lime, Enjoy!