Food & Drink

Stuffed Calamari

A traditional dish, just-like-grandma-made (if your grandma is a fantastic Italian cook)

Photo: Courtesy of Shannon Tinnell

“On our table, there has always been calamari,” says Shannon Tinnell of Morgantown, West Virginia. This family recipe was passed down from her husband’s grandmother, and Tinnell recommends using a light hand with the tomato sauce, letting the calamari star. “We stuff it with bread crumbs, cheese, and herbs, and it’s simple, warm, and filling.”


> See our full Feast of the Seven Fishes menu


  • For the tomato sauce:

    • 5 cloves garlic, minced

    • 1 small white onion, chopped fine

    • ¼ cup olive oil

    • 2 large cans tomato puree

    • 1 small can tomato paste

    • Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

    • Fresh basil to taste

  • For the calamari:

    • 2–3 pounds whole calamari

    • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped

    • 1 head garlic, minced

    • 1 egg

    • 2–3 cups Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

    • 1 large (24 oz.) can fine dry unflavored breadcrumbs

    • ½-1 cup milk

    • olive oil

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 1 tsp. pepper

    • 1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil


  1. For the tomato sauce:

    Sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the tomato products and seasonings. Simmer on low heat for as little as twenty minutes, or keep it on a back burner slowly simmering for up to a few hours to let the flavors develop. Remove from heat and add fresh basil.

  2. For the calamari:

    Clean and prepare the squid by removing the tentacles and leaving only the body cavity.

  3. Chop the tentacles very fine. In a bowl, mix chopped tentacles with parsley, garlic, egg, cheese, and breadcrumbs. Incorporate, slowly adding the milk until a thick moist mixture is achieved.

  4. Stuff the calamari bodies, being careful not to overstuff because they will shrink during the cooking process and burst. Drizzle a baking dish with olive oil. In the baking dish, lay the stuffed calamari in rows, season with salt and pepper, and cover with tomato sauce and a little more olive oil. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and fresh basil.

  5. Cover tightly with foil and cook in a 450-degree oven for 45–60 minutes. The squid is done when it feels tender at the pricking of a fork.