My family used to go weekly to a wonderful family run restaurant on Royal Lane and Preston in Dallas called Rodolpho's. My mother would charm the owner with her Italian fluency and we always managed to get a decadent, complimentary piece of cappuccino pie on each visit. It has long since closed but I remember on one of my first visits my dad had me try Calamari Fritti. I loved it!! Then he told me it was squid and I recoiled in horror that something so "gross' could taste so fabulous. Mind you, calamari in Dallas in the late 80s was pretty exotic.
Since I've stopped eating wheat and no longer have the metabolism to process fried foods anyway, I've been searching for healthier versions of my childhood favorites. I attended a lively cooking class a few years ago with Chef Gina Stipo and she prepared the most savory and succulent calamari dish for us that is much, much healthier yet leaves the calamari swollen with flavor and tenderness. It is very easy to prepare and is incredibly cost effective. A serving for four people is around $9 TOTAL.
6 Calamari tubes, rinsed and sliced into rings
2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 small sweet onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 cup white wine such as pinot grigio
1 can organic Whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 small, whole sprig of rosemary
1 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
Fresh chopped Italian Parsley and Fresh Basil for garnish
Sea Salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon and some fresh sprinkles after serving).
Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy dutch oven or skillet (not cast iron due to the acids of tomatoes and wine).
Add onions and carrot and cook, stirring often until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add bay leaves, dried herbs, whole rosemary sprig, sea salt, garlic and cook about 1 minute before adding the wine. Simmer wine about 4 minutes.
Add can of tomatoes and crush with a spoon.
Add Calamari, cover and braise on low heat about one hour until calamari is tender and cooked through. I also added bay scallops the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Pour into warm bowls, squeeze with lemon, drizzle a little olive oil and garnish with fresh basil and parsley with a fresh salad and grilled rustic bread.
You could add a touch of creme before serving to add a little decadence.