It is not often that I find fresh squid (also known as calamari) at my local fishmonger’s, but when I do, I jump on them. I like to vary the dishes and foods I eat and fresh squid are the perfect excuse to try a new recipe.
Like most seafood, squid are easy to prepare - once the fishmonger has done the hard work of cleaning them - and they are delicious. This is one of my favourite recipes which I adapted from a classical Mediterranean recipe which contains either grated bread or white rice in the stuffing. I have swapped out the rice and breadcrumbs with barley and in my opinion it tastes even better.
Stuffed Squid with Barley and Black Olives
Ingredients (for 2 people)
4 to 6 whole baby squid, cleaned
½ cup of organic pearl barley
3 to 4 canned anchovy filets
A handful of cherry tomatoes
A handful of (pitted) black olives
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh parsley (optional)
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
4 to 6 toothpicks
1. Measure the barley, rinse and place it in a pan with a pinch of coarse sea salt. Add some hot water (approximately 2 to 2.5 cups of water to 1 cup of barley – check the instructions on the pack) and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the grains are cooked but still chewy.
2. In the meantime soak the cherry tomatoes and parsley in a bowl of water and bicarbonate of soda for approximately 10 minutes.
3. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
4. If you bought black olives with a pit, just place them on a chopping board and press on each olive with your thumb so that they open and you can remove the pit easily. Then cut them in two.
5. Take the anchovy filets out of the can or jar, and cut each one into 3 or 4 pieces.
6. Pat dry the tomatoes and roughly chop them into 2 or 4, depending on how big they are, and set aside.
7. Take the squid and remove any remaining skin, as well as the transparent quill. This is as simple as pulling it out from one end. Then wash and pat dry the squid.
8. Cut off the tentacles, squash to remove the beak, cut if off and discard it. Then chop the tentacles into small bits and set aside.
9. In a wide frying pan heat the olive oil, then add the garlic for a few seconds so that the oil takes on the flavour.
10. Add the anchovies, cherry tomatoes and tentacles to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. The anchovies are here to add an extra depth of flavour to the recipe, but you will not taste them in the final dish, so don’t worry if you don’t like them too much.
11. Add the barley to the pan, mixing well, turn off the heat after about 1 minute and let it all cool down a bit.
12. Take the squids and stuff them with the barley and black olive mixture, pressing down so that no air pockets remain. Then close off with the toothpick at the top as if you were sewing them shut.
13. Place in the same pan where you cooked the stuffing, adding a little olive oil if necessary, and leaving any remaining stuffing in the pan. You can also add some more chopped tomatoes to the pan if you want a more “wet” finish.
14. Cover the pan and allow the squid to cook for a 2 to 3 of minutes on each side, depending on the size of the baby squid.
15. Chop the parsley and sprinkle over the top just before serving.
They can be served with a side salad or some kohlrabi chips (see recipe on page 60 of Anna’s Kitchen).
Further reading/ Additional Resources
To read about the health benefits of barley and how it compares to rice, as well as other recipes, you can head to these blog articles here:
“Barley – The cereal for longer lifespan and healthier hair” You should be replacing rice with barley (annaskitchenblog.com)
“Foods that help boost mood” The link between gut and brain in regulating mood (annaskitchenblog.com)