CALAMARI RIPIENI CON FORMAGGIO FRESCO E MARSALA (Stuffed calamari with fresh cheese and braised in marsala)

I use marsala fina or secca (dry) for my cooking. And I will say this emphatically: never purchase a bottle of marsala all’uovo – unfortunately this has given marsala a bad name.

Marsala is the fortified wine of Sicily. Like sherry, there are various blends and some is aged in wood for longer than ten years; it is called marsala stravecchia and as noble as any good liqueur.

Those of you who have been to Sicily and have visited the Cantine Florio in Marsala, in the province of Trapani would know what I am talking about.


For a main course estimate 1 squid per person – these are medium sized squid – usually the smaller the better as large squid can be a bit rubbery.  For an antipasto the squid can be cut into slices and feed 6 people.

My confession:

Being a Sicilian/ Italian recipe the soft cheese used for the stuffing can be one of the following: tuma, pecorino fresco, mozzarella, fior di latte, bocconcini and even ricotta….and not the tub variety!

On this occasion I used Danish feta – definitely not traditional but I had some marinading in extra virgin olive oil, dry oregano and fennel seeds in the fridge. Not Bad!

Instead of the parsley, I used fresh marjoram, once again, because I had some growing and because I like the sweetness of this herb – it goes well with nutmeg and with soft cheese. Not Sicilian either!

You may be wondering about the dark colour on the body of the squid – it is because I do not bother to strip each squid meticulously  – what comes off, comes off.  ( The same with octopus!)

My mother would never have approved of the ” fusion” ingredients – Italians are a bit like that, they stick to what is correct and proper. I have come a long way!


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4 medium squid
1 cup breadcrumbs (small), made from good-quality day-old bread
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely cut
¼–½ teaspoon nutmeg
150g fresh cheese cut into small cubes (see above)
1 cup dry marsala
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Clean the squid: pull off the head and the inside of the squid and discard. Cut
off tentacles and save them for another time.
Toast the breadcrumbs in a little oil. Cool.
Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and nutmeg together and add the seasoning.
Stuff the squid and secure each end with a skewer.
Sauté each squid in olive oil. When golden, add the marsala, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes (depending on size).
Uncover and evaporate the juices as necessary.


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