As a general rule, cheese and fish & seafood shouldn’t be mixed but there are always exceptions and when it comes to Greek food, we have some wonderful cheese and seafood combos like Shrimp Saganaki and Mussels Saganaki.
Today I’m taking this delicate but delicious combo of cheese and seafood to calamari aka squid. For this recipe I like using small calamari, about the length of your index finger and I’ve stuffed them with one of my favourite cheeses…Kapnisto Metsovone ( a smoked cheese from Metsovone). Much like Feta, smoked Metsovone is a pasteurized semi-hard cheese made of cow and goat’s milk, is produced in Metsovo (Epirus) and its a PDO European product since 1996.
After the tentacles have been pulled from the tubes of the squid, I clean the insides, trip the head and beak off the tentacles and off I go to make the stuffing. I sweat some scallions, diced anise-flavoured fennel and add some paprika and once cooled add them into a food processor with some raw shrimp and blitz into a course paste. After, I simply toss the mixture in a bowl with the smoked Metsovone and carefully fill the calamari tubes.
These stuffed calamari with shrimp and smoked Metsovone could be served on their own as a meze or appetizer…with rice pilaf or finish off a baked dish of kritharaki. On the day I cooked up these wonderous morsels, I was in the mood for serving them with pasta. I will make this dish over and over and over again.
Calamari Stuffed With Shrimp and Smoked Metsovone Cheese
approx. 1 1/2 lb. of small squid (about 16), tubes and tentacles cleaned
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced fennel
1/3 cup sliced scallions
1/3 cup diced (small cubes) smoked Metsovone cheese (or smoked Gouda)
6-8 medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
2 Tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
500 gr. pkge of dried linguine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 shot of Ouzo
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed & rinsed)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
chilli flakes (Boukovo) to taste
- Add a turn or two of olive oil into a small over medium heat and add the scallions, diced fennel and sweat for about 2-3 minutes and take off the heat. Season with some salt and pepper and set aside.
- Once cooled, add the fennel/scallion mixture into a food processor with the shrimp and pulse into a into a chunky paste. Remove from the processor and add into a bowl with the diced cheese, paprika, salt and fresh ground pepper and toss with a spoon.
- Stuff each calamari tube to about 3/4 full with the filling and secure the ends with a toothpick and reserve. Place a large pot of water on your stovetop and once aboil, add salt and cook your pasta for about 6 minutes (add the peas at the 5 minute mark)
- In the meantime, place a large skillet on your stove-top and add the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season your squid with salt, pepper and some sweet paprika and add the tubes and tentacles and sauté until just browned. Remove the tentacles with a slotted spoon (they will cook first) then the tubes and reserve (the tubes should be cooked for about 2 minutes/side, ensuring filling is cooked).
- In the same skillet, add the diced onions, garlic and sweat over medium heat for 5 minutes then add the wine, Ouzo and reduce for 4-6 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Once the pasta and peas are cooked, drain and place in the skillet along with the reserved calamari tubes and tentacles, lemon zest and juice, dried oregano and gently toss for a couple of minutes.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, add the chopped fresh parsley and chilli flakes, extra-virgin olive oil, divide and serve.
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