Slow-Cooked Calamari with Tomatoes and Basil (All’acqua Pazza)
The slow-cooked calamari portion can be made ahead of time and gently reheated before serving.
- 2 pound calamari (cleaned)
- 6 tablespoon olive oil (divided, plus more as needed and for drizzling)
- ½ cup minced shallots
- 4 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (plus more for seasoning)
- 1 small dried red chile (such as chile de árbol crumbled) or a generous pinch of crushed red chile pepper flakes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup clam juice
- 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (plus more for garnish )
- 2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 clove garlic (peeled and halved lengthwise)
- 4–6 slice rustic bread
- black pepper (to taste)
Using a kitchen mallet, lightly pound both sides of calamari bodies 6 or 7 times to tenderize, then cut crosswise into 3/4‑inch rings. (Leave tentacles whole, or halve if quite large.)
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot with a lid set over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute, stirring occasionally, until translucent and just beginning to color, about 5 minutes.
Stir in minced garlic, salt, and crumbled dried chile. Add calamari pieces and cook until nearly opaque, about 1 minute.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add wine and clam juice. Once the mixture begins to boil pour in tomatoes with their juices. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
Uncover the pot and add chopped basil and orange zest. Continue to cook until the calamari is very tender and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Keep the sauce warm while you prepare the bread slices.
Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in heavy bottomed or cast iron skillet. Rub both sides of bread with halved garlic cloves. Add clove halves to oil, and cook 2 minutes. Fry the bread slices, flipping once, until golden and crisp, about 1 ½ minutes total. Do not crowd the pan, work in batches if necessary, adding more oil as needed.
Put 1 slice of bread into each serving bowl, and top with calamari and sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional basil and a drizzle of olive oil.