The most striking thing about the island of Pantelleria cooking is how fresh the fish is.
Every second day we have been heading to Pantelleria city early in the morning, to join the crowd gathered in front of one of the two fish shops down by the harbour. For some reason the crowd is always in front of the one shop and not the other. We don’t know why, but we do as the crowd does!
Today we bought 4 calamari and half a kilo of gamberi – or gambi. The gamberi will be used for pasta with gamberi in jelly of Zibbibo grape. But today we used the calamari in another very Pantescan dish: Stuffed calamari.
This time the recipe comes from the very inviting new cookbook we have found on the island this time: La Cucina dei Pantelleria, with text in Italian and English. It is collaboration between the leading restaurant La Nicchia and the wine producer Donnafugata and has some very inviting, simple recipes.
For the stuffed calamari, you take two calamari per person. You clean them – which is very easy. Basically you pull the head off and then turn them inside out to get everything out, under running water.
Then you prepare the stuffing. For 4 persons you cut up the tentacles of the calamari and fry them quickly with garlic. Frying them too long will risk making them rubber-like. You add 20 olives cut up,50 g raisins,50 g chopped pine nuts or almonds, 50 grated pecorino or parmesan cheese,50 g breadcrumbs (homemade, not bought), 2 tbsp capers and fry it all up. Then you gather it with one egg and taste with salt and pepper.
You stuff the calamari – which is easy: calamari in one hand, teaspoon with stuffing in the other hand and you just fill the calamari up.
You place the filled calamari in a pan together with finely chopped tomatoes, a bit of tomato paste, salt and pepper, oregano (this is Pantelleria, remember!). Add a bit of water to keep it moist and simmer under lid for up to 30 mins.
Can be served with a salad or pasta.
On the plate, and when you take the first slice of the calamari you have both the aromatic smell of many things Pantescan, but also a very colourful slice showing the stuffing of dark raisins, green olives and nuts/almonds. A tasty and beautiful dish.