Grilled Stuffed Calamari with Olives, Almonds and Chili

By Aglaia Kremezi

    From Mediterranean Hot and Spicy

    Whenever we get good fresh calamari of any size, Costas, my husband, likes to stuff and grill it over charcoal, or on the portable electric grill. He doesn’t like the feta stuffing served with calamari at most Greek taverns, so he came up with this mixture of olives, almonds and chilies. Calamari are very filling. Serve with just a green salad.

    Serves 6-8
    8-10 medium-small calamari (1 ½ -2 pounds), cleaned, bone discarded, heads separated

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    Good pinch Aleppo or Maras pepper, or Hot Red Pepper Flakes to taste

    3 tablespoons dried whole-wheat breadcrumbs or ground barley paximadi
    1/4 cup raw almonds (not peeled)
    ½ cup pitted firm green olives
    Zest of 1 non treated lemon
    2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
    1 ½ - 3 teaspoons Aleppo or Maras pepper, or Hot Red Pepper Flakes to taste

    Wash calamari in and out and pat dry with paper towels. With scissors or a very sharp knife cut a ¼-ich slit on one side, near the pointed end of each calamari tube.
    In a bowl mix the olive oil, lemon and chili to make the marinade. Toss the calamari (body and heads) in the marinade, rubbing with your finger and making sure that they are moist inside and out. Set aside for about 20 minutes.
    In a blender pulse together the breadcrumbs, almonds, olives, zest, thyme and chili. Add salt sparingly, olives are usually quite salty.
    Light the barbeque, or heat the griddle.
    Stuff each calamari tube with about 2 teaspoons stuffing and secure the top with a toothpick.
    Place the stuffed calamari, cut side up, together with the heads on a well oiled rack, close to the burning coals, or on an a very hot griddle. As the calamari tubes puff up, press carefully with tongs to extract the air. Grill until firm and marked, turning once or carefully rolling, to cook and mark on all sides, brushing every now and then with the marinade, about 8 minutes total. Slice and serve.

    Wine recommendation
    Aromatically, the pleasantly earthy aspect of a Assyrtiko Santorini wine with a citrus background enhances the vegetable filling of this dish. The full flavour and high acidity of the wine create a balanced structure that embraces the savory stuffed calamari.