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Calamari, Potato and Peas

Calamari, Potato and Peas-Plated and Styled
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Calamari, Potato and Peas is a family recipe that we always enjoyed on Christmas Eve growing up in my Italian-American household. It’s a savory combination of tender, slow-cooked calamari, hearty potatoes and sweet peas in a succulent tomato sauce spiked with dry red wine, vinegar, and briny olives and anchovies. And, while this dish certainly reminds me of the holidays, it is a season-less combination to enjoy year-round.

Calamari, Potato and Peas-Plated and Styled

You may not know this, but calamari (a.k.a., squid) and peas were made for each other, much in the same way as tomatoes and basil, sausage and peppers, and Martin and Lewis. The sweetness of the peas complements the brininess of the calamari perfectly. When combined with a rich tomato sauce, as in this recipe, the result is both a great taste and texture.

This traditional Italian-American combination of Calamari, Potato and Peas is a healthful and hearty dish that is very easy to prepare and just requires a little patience as the calamari slowly tenderizes in the savory tomato sauce.

One Minute or One Hour . . .

I can still hear my favorite culinary school instructor, Chef Scanlan, waving his finger at the class and repeating, “Always cook calamari one minute or one hour!” It had a nice ring to it and was easy to remember. What he meant was this–calamari is the type of ingredient that you either cook very quickly to get a nice, chewy bite, as in fried or grilled calamari. Or, you have to cook it about one hour, so that it passes through the middle cooking stage when it is unappetizingly spongy and tough, and enters into the tender and super-appealing stage.

This dish achieves the latter. Calamari tubes and tentacles are quickly sautéed with aromatics, then slowly simmered in a savory tomato sauce until they turn into a luscious, tender experience that is both comforting and sublime. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Ingredients

To make Calamari, Potato and Peas, we will be using the following ingredients:

  • Calamari: Sometimes fresh calamari is difficult to find. I generally use a high-quality frozen calamari that is pre-cleaned, saving me lots of time. Cleaned fresh squid comes at a premium at the fish market, but is worth it in my opinion. Having said that, cleaning squid is not difficult, just time consuming (and a bit slimy), as the outer skin, innards and all cartilage must be removed. (Click here for a great resource on the process.) Once fully cleaned, both the tentacles and body (cut up into rings) can be used in this recipe.
  • Potato: I like to use a floury, russet potato in this recipe, but an all-purpose potato, such as Yukon Gold, can be used as well. Peeling is optional and up to you. I like to leave the skin on.
  • Peas: Frozen peas work really well in this recipe and are what I use exclusively. Of course, fresh peas can be used, but are difficult to find year-round. Be sure to defrost the peas before using. They cook in just a couple minutes, so are added to the recipe as one of the last steps. Try not to overcook them as they will lose their beautiful green color!
  • Onions and Garlic: As in many of my recipes, onions and garlic are important flavor builders in the foundation of this dish. Super-important!
  • Anchovy: The anchovies dissolve into the olive oil early in the cooking process, resulting in a subtle, but significant, briny- and salti-ness
  • Canned Tomatoes: I prefer to use whole tomatoes that I then crush by hand, as they are less processed than other varieties. But, you can certainly use diced, crushed or even tomato puree in this recipe.
  • Herbs: We use both fresh (parsley) and dried (oregano) herbs in this dish, each contributing its own uniqueness and flavor to the final product.
  • Red Wine: Use a good-quality, dry red wine here to deglaze the pan, add acidity and complement the flavors. I generally use merlot, chianti, montepulcano d’abruzzo or pinot noir in cooking.
  • Black, Oil-Cured Olives: Adds a briny, savory and salty flavor.
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Used to sauté the onions, garlic and calamari. A pure olive oil can be used here in place of extra-virgin.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Added to the recipe as one of the very last steps, the red wine vinegar rounds out the flavors in the dish by contributing acid and brightness. The timing of adding this is key!

A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.⁠

Step-By-Step, Pro-Tips included!

Here are the main steps for how to make Calamari, Potato and Peas:

  • Prep and measure all ingredients. Combine the olive oil and anchovy in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Then, cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until the anchovy has mostly dissolved.
Calamari, Potato and Peas-Ingredients
  • Add the onion, half the parsley, garlic and crushed red pepper to the pan, stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Then, stir in the calamari and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes.
    • PRO-TIP: This is a great recipe for which you could add in or substitute other forms of seafood. See “Possible Recipe Variations” below for some specific tips!

  • Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add the tomatoes, water, potato, dried oregano and seasoning, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes and calamari are very tender.
  • Once the calamari and potatoes are at the desired level of tenderness, add the red wine vinegar, peas, olives and remaining parsley, stir gently, and cook for 2 more minutes. That’s’ it!
    • PRO-TIP: This recipe can be made 1 to 2 days in advance. It also, freezes well.
Calamari, Potato and Peas-Finished in Pan

Recipe Variations for Calamari, Potato and Peas

Here are a few ideas to change up this Calamari, Potato and Peas recipe:  

  • Turn it into a Hearty Seafood Stew: This recipe is a great foundation for a mixed seafood stew. If you’d like to do this, I suggest the following: Add clams and mussels to the pan after the wine. Then, remove them once they open, and proceed with the rest of the recipe. Add them back to the pan, along with some raw, small-to-medium-sized shrimp and/or bay scallops, with the peas and olives. The seafood stew would then be done as soon as the shrimp and scallops are cooked through.
  • Turn it into a Pasta: With or without the potatoes, add some spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine or bucatini. I suggest chopping the potatoes into smaller pieces, though. And, top it with some toasted breadcrumbs!
  • Increase the Protein and Decrease the Carbs: Omit the potatoes and double the calamari. It will still be delicious!

Different Ways to Enjoy Calamari, Potato and Peas

Calamari, Potato and Peas is a great addition to a seafood-centric meal, either as a main course or as an accompaniment to other seafood dishes. So, it is perfect for a holiday like Christmas Eve and the Feast of the Seven Fishes, for those that celebrate it.

And, since calamari is not a seasonal ingredient, enjoy it all year round!

I love serving Calamari, Potato and Peas with a light green salad with a red wine vinaigrette, a small chunk of rustic bread and a glass of very dry, red wine.

Calamari, Potato and Peas-In Ceramic Bowl

Kitchen Tools & Cookware for Calamari, Potato and Peas

To make this Calamari, Potato and Peas recipe, you will need the following:

Calamari, Potato and Peas-Plated and Styled

More Great Recipes to Try

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Calamari, Potato and Peas-Plated and Styled

Calamari, Potato and Peas

Michele
Calamari, Potato and Peas is a family recipe that we always enjoyed on Christmas Eve growing up in my Italian-American household. It’s a savory combination of tender, slow-cooked calamari, hearty potatoes and sweet peas in a succulent tomato sauce spiked with dry red wine, vinegar, and briny olives and anchovies. And, while this dish certainly reminds me of the holidays, it is a season-less combination that can be enjoyed year-round.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley divided
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound calamari, cleaned, bodies sliced into ½” pieces
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine such as merlot or chianti
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed
  • 1/2 can water
  • 1 russet potato cut into ½” chunks, held in cold water
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 8 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/4 cup pitted and chopped oil-cured black olives

Instructions
 

  • Combine the olive oil and anchovy in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until the anchovy has mostly dissolved.
  • Add the onion, half the parsley, garlic and crushed red pepper to the pan, stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Then, stir in the calamari and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add the tomatoes, water, potato (drain first if being held in cold water), dried oregano, salt and black pepper and gently stir until all ingredients are well-combined.
  • Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a light boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has come to a boil, remove the cover and reduce the heat to a light simmer.
  • Simmer the mixture uncovered for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes and calamari are very tender. Stir the mixture regularly so that it does not stick or get clumpy.
  • Once the calamari and potatoes are at the desired level of tenderness, add the red wine vinegar, peas, olives and remaining parsley, stir gently, and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving platter or bowl. Buon Appetito!

Notes

  • This is a great recipe for which you could add in or substitute other forms of seafood. If you’d like to make this into a larger meal, I suggest the following: Add clams and mussels to the pan after the wine and remove them once they open, then proceed with the rest of the recipe. Add them back to the pan, along with some raw, small-to-medium-sized shrimp and/or bay scallops, with the peas and olives. The seafood stew would then be done as soon as the shrimp and scallops are cooked through.
  • Calamari, Potato and Peas can be made 1 to 2 days in advance. It also freezes really well and can be held in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
If you try this recipe, please share a photo on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK and tag it @MangiaWithMichele and #MangiaWithMichele. I’d love to see it!
Keyword Calamari potato and peas, calamari recipes, seafood, seafood recipes, potato recipes, Christmas eve recipe, Italian food, Italian American food, Italian food blog, italian recipes

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3 thoughts on “Calamari, Potato and Peas

  1. Can you use frozen calamari here (without defrosting), and how does that change the time to cook??

    1. Hi Carla. I do not recommend using calamari that has not been defrosted in this recipe. It should be defrosted first.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this over the weekend-it was so good! Easy to follow instructions.

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