Why It Works
- Cutting the squid bodies into large, half-inch-thick rings accounts for shrinkage during cooking, so that they end up just the right size.
- Simmering the squid in the braising liquids breaks down its natural collagen into gelatin, giving it a wonderful tender texture.
- Harissa and lemon zest add complexity and backbone to the stew.
Most recipes for squid focus on quick-cooking techniques, like sautéing and frying, but long-cooked braised squid is arguably one of the most delicious ways to prepare it. The best part is that when it comes to squid, "long cooking" is usually just a half hour or so of simmering. This recipe features braised squid in a spicy tomato sauce with olives and lemon zest.
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion (6 ounces; 170g), quartered and thinly sliced
- 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup (120ml) dry white wine
- 2 pounds (1kg) cleaned squid bodies and tentacles, bodies sliced into 1/2-inch rings and large tentacles halved
- 1 (28-ounce; 800g) can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 ounces (170g) pitted black olives
- 1/2 tablespoon (8ml) fresh harissa paste or store-bought
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) finely grated zest from 1/2 lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Small handful minced fresh parsley leaves
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes.
Add wine and squid, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until alcohol smell has mostly cooked off, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, thyme sprigs, and olives and return to a simmer. Lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until squid is tender, about 30 minutes. Discard thyme.
Stir in harissa and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle parsley on top, and serve.
Harissa, a North African spiced chili paste, is available at well-stocked markets and gourmet stores. This squid would be excellent served alongside pastas like couscous and fregola, or grains like rice and farro. (Fregola is pictured here.) The squid can be braised up to 4 days in advance and kept refrigerated in a sealed container; thin slightly with water and reheat before serving.