Summertime Squid, Grilled the Sicilian Way

Calamari Ripieni (Sicily) (4)

Calamari Ripieni
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
For ease, buy the squid already cleaned but make sure they include each of the squid's tentacles. Eight squid should weigh about 1¼ pounds, and that size is ideal for grilling in this recipe. You can double the recipe if you like. The easiest way--and there is no really easy way--to stuff squid is to squeeze open the squid body with one hand and fill it with a baby spoon or a flat handle-end of a spoon, tamping it down into the body and securing the opening with a toothpick.
Recipe type: Grilled
Cuisine: Sicilian
Serves: 4
  • 8 large squid (1 to 1¼ pounds), cleaned
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. Cut off the tentacles off the squid below the eyes and chop the tentacles finely. In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, add the bread crumbs and chopped tentacles, and cook, stirring, until the bread crumbs begin to turn golden brown, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with the garlic, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, mixing well. Toss again with the mozzarella.
  2. Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil with the oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on medium-high.
  4. Dry the squid well. Stuff loosely with the filling and close the opening with a toothpick. Brush with the seasoned olive oil, place on the grill, and cook over indirect heat for 15 to 17 minutes on each side, basting with the seasoned olive oil occasionally.

To go in an Italian direction with your summertime grilling you could do no better—and unusual if you’ve never grilled squid—than grilling stuffed squid.  You could make these grilled squid as an antipasto or as a main course.  This recipe in particular is a popular preparation in the province of Messina in Sicily.  The simplest way to grill squid is to clean them and marinate with olive oil, parsley, and salt and pepper for 1 hour, then grill for 20 to 30 minutes.  Another way is to stuff them with the stuffing below and then to marinate the stuffed squid, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 hours in 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, salt, and pepper.  In Sardinia, cooks stuff the squid with 1 cup bread crumbs, 4 squid tentacles, boiled for 3 minutes and finely chopped with 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, 2 finely chopped garlic cloves; 6 finely chopped anchovy fillets and salt and pepper. For this stuffed version some people also add eggs or raisins or leave out the cheese.  Italians also eat cuttlefish, which they catch while still small. The cuttlefish available in American markets—and really only found in Chinese markets in America—are much bigger and better suited to being cut-up and grilled rather than stuffed.


Tomato and Cheese Make Perfect Summer Salads

Tomato, Fig, Avocado Salad (1) A rule of thumb—better yet—a summer desire, is to keep ones cooking simple as no one wants to spend a lot of time in a hot kitchen. Grilling is the solution, but so is simple summer vegetable salads. In fact, you could make an entire meal of nothing but a variety of salads. In Arab cuisine these would be served as meze, small plates to be shared that are the entirety of the meal, not an appetizer.
Here are some great possibilities. They don’t really require recipes as they rest on the imagination of the cook and require almost no cooking beyond the garnishes.
The first is a Tomato, Fig, Avocado Salad. You’ll want to begin by frying some diced French baguette bread in a sauté pan with olive oil until golden, which will take about 5 minutes on medium heat. The arrange the tomatoes—vine-ripened from your garden ideally—cut into eighths along with fresh quartered Black Mission figs. Sprinkle some diced white Middle Eastern cheese (such as Nabulsi) or white Mexican cheese (such as queso fresco) around with a diced avocado, the fried bread and sprinkle chopped fresh dill, olive oil, and red wine vinegar on top with a little kosher salt.

Tomato with Goat Cheese
In the second tomato salad, a Tomato and Gorgonzola Salad, you’ll use Gorgonzola, an Italian blue-type mold cheese made of cow’s milk. Although Gorgonzola is a sharp tasting cheese it is also delicate and creamy and should be soft to the touch. The blue veins of mold should be quite obvious. Taste before buying; it should not be bitter, but rich with a sharp flavor. Ripe tomatoes and Gorgonzola together make a nice accompaniment to grilled foods or any other simple food. Slice a very large ripe tomato (weighing about 3/4 pound) 3/8 inches thick and arrange on a serving platter. Smear about 1 tablespoon of Gorgonzola on each slice and sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and serve to two people at room temperature.

Tomatoes with Ricotta Salata
The third tomato-and-cheese salad is simple ripe tomatoes with ricotta salata cheese, some olive oil, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and salt. That’s it. Make sure the ricotta salata is at room temperature when served.

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