Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stuffed Squid with Brown Rice & Lentils

The other day Hub and I decided to get out of our cooking comfort zone and we bought a few whole squids to experiment with. Originally, we wanted to chop them up and toss them into a curry, but then I decided it would be nice to stuff them. I found this lovely recipe by one of my favorite chefs Ottolenghi and modified it to include what I actually had in my cupboard. I was very nervous about this dish, but it turned out superb. I was so chuffed with myself because I challenged myself and prepared everything from scratch. I hope you like it as much as I did. Enjoy! Serves 4

First, thank God I spoke to my friend Annie before attempting this dish or I would have seriously messed it up. I thought I bought some special Brazilian species with purple skin, unlike the clear white ones I usually see and eat. Annie quickly informed me that my beautiful purple squid needed to be skinned and prepared before cooking. She told me to go on YouTube and I found this helpful video

All clean! Cleaning squid is tedious, but I'm happy I learned how. I would recommend buying them prepared and ready to go. Two helpful tips I learned in the process: you don't need to remove the skin from the tentacles and the little suction cups are a b@#$% to get off. Since I was baking my dish, I gave up after a while. Didn't notice it at all. 

Tomato Sauce
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup of white wine
5 shrimp heads & tails (the main body & meat will be used for your stuffing)
1 can of tinned tomatoes, cubed or peeled
1 tbs of honey
1 red chili
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbs capers
salt & pepper
olive oil
Prepare your tomato sauce first, before you start on the squid. Heat up a good glug of oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic cloves and fry for about a minute, just until light golden. Add the wine carefully and let it bubble for a minute. Add the shrimp heads & tails, tomatoes, honey, thyme, chilli and season with salt & pepper. Leave the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes and start on your squid and stuffing (see below). Remove from the heat, stir in the capers, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Squid & Stuffing
4 medium size clean whole squids with tentacles
1 cup of parboiled brown rice
1 cup of parboiled lentils
20 small/10 large fresh Italian basil leaves
Grated zest of ½ lemon
salt & pepper
1 vegetable bouillon cube
5 large whole raw shrimps
2 crushed garlic cloves

While your tomato sauce is simmering, add the rice to a medium saucepan filled with 1 1/2 cups of boiling water, 1/2 vegetable bouillon cube and simmer for about 10 minutes, just to par-cook. Add the lentils to a medium saucepan filled with 1 1/2 cups boiling water, 1/2 vegetable bouillon cube and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, just to par-cook. Basically, the rice and lentils should be chewy and just a bit under cooked. Drain both of any excess water, refresh under cold water and shake to remove all the water. Transfer both to a mixing bowl, adding oregano, lemon zest, crushed garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Stir and taste for seasoning. Grab the shrimp, remove the shell, mince up the meat and add to your mixing bowl.

Heat the oven to 190C/375F. Grab your squid, remove any excess water and pat dry with a paper towel. Use your hands to stuff the squid with the mixture and then place in a shallow, ovenproof dish. Once done fill the gaps in your dish with the tentacles. 

Pour the hot tomato sauce over the squid until it is just covered. Put the squid tray uncovered into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the squid is white (not translucent). I was nervous about under cooking the squid so I took a little bite from the fins and it was perfectly cooked.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley, and voila! 

I served it with a side of steamed broccoli and it was so, so good. I really loved this dish because it felt like the right balance between fiber-rich carbs, good fats, and lean protein and I didn't have to worry about measuring. It was just right and healthy.
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