Squids can be tricksy devils as they want to either be flash fried at really high heat for, like, 2.2 seconds, or braised for a good long while. Anything in between results in fish-flavoured bubblegum.
Here, on the ocean fruit bereft mainland, squids typically come to us frozen (which actually kind of cooks the squid), so the latter option is the only option for delicious, non-bubble-gummy squid.
This recipe makes the most of that by killing a few birds with one stone. Firstly, you’re roasting your peppers and onions and braising your squid in the same oven at the same temperature for the same amount of time, and secondly you’re getting a lot of those coastal, Mediterranean flavours, but with all of the warmth heartiness one wants in the dead of mainland, Canadian winters.
What you need:
- 2 lbs frozen squid
- 2 red peppers, cleaned and chopped into chunks
- 2 red onions, also chopped into chunks
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 lemons
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 3 tsp paprika (sweet or hot – you do you)
- 2 cups or 1 can tomatoes, diced
- 4 cups of water
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 cups chopped arugula
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 375.
- In a dutch oven (or other large, oven-compatible pot) toss the squid in a little of the oil, salt, pepper, one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of coriander and all of the paprika until just coated.
- Halve the lemons and squeeze them over the squid.
- Add the spent halves to the pot and place the pot in the oven, covered.
- In a bowl, toss the peppers and onions in a little oil, salt and pepper until just coated.
- Spread the veg on a baking sheet in a single layer and place on middle rack of oven.
- Roast/braise both for about 40 minutes, or until everything is nice and roasty toasty, removing the lid from the pot of squid and turning, stirring at the 20 minute mark.
- After about 40 minutes, the squid should be a bit browned and the peppers and onion should also been browned (a bit charred is great, too) and soft.
- Remove the squid and lemons from the pot and set aside.
- Place the pot on medium-high burner and add a tablespoon of the oil and the garlic to the pot, stirring occasionally until the garlic is fragrant and translucent.
- Deglaze with a little of the wine or vermouth. Add the tomatoes, peppers and onions to the pot and use an immersion blender to blend together until smooth. Do this before it gets hot!
- If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender or food processor to blend the tomatoes, peppers, and onions together and then add the mix to the pot.
- Stir in the squid along with the remaining water and spices and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the arugula, pesto and wine/vermouth, season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve hot with focaccia.