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Calamari Stew in Tomato Sauce

by Adina 18/08/2019 9 comments

seafood stew with calamari recipe
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Last Updated on 25/06/2020 by Adina

The best calamari recipe I know! Tender calamari in sauce, this is an aromatic seafood stew that you will be making over and over again.

This calamari stew was my first time with calamari. Cooking it, not eating it. Fast forward to 2019 (this is an updated post from 2015). I’ve cooked this stew like a million times during the last 4 years.

It still remains the best calamari recipe ever! Even better than the fried calamari rings in Chinese restaurants, which I adore as well.

calamari in tomato sauce

I bought a bag of frozen calamari on a whim, not exactly knowing what to do with it, thinking about some squid in tomato sauce I once had in a Spanish restaurant and knowing that the children will spend the next 3 days in grandma’s house, meaning that for a few days I will be able to cook what I call “adult” food, food that I know that my children would not touch.

So during these three days we had calamari stew, fish soup with potatoes, skillet broccoli and mushrooms with blue cheese and sweet potato gratin.

I liked all these meals very much, but the calamari stew was a real revelation. Something that I know for sure I will cook again, with or without children complaining (they could mop the tomato sauce with the bread and leave the calamari rings for us).

It was sooooooooooo much better than the restaurant version. That one was for sure good enough to leave an impression on me, but really not that good compared with this version.

seafood stew with calamari recipe

Difference between squid and calamari

I was always unsure about the differences. On one hand, I knew they must be more or less the same thing, yet I always thought about squid as being huge and of only thought of calamari in terms of food.

But what is actually the difference?

  • Biologically, calamari and squid are pretty much the same thing, both cephalopods of the order teuthoidea. But there are over 300 different species of these cephalopods.
  • Squid is usually Nototodarus gouldi or Teuthoidea, while calamari is from the genus Sepioteuthis. You can see the word “sepia” in the name, which refers to their ink.
  • The squid has fins that form an arrow shape on the end of the hood, while the fins of the calamari run on the sides of the body.
  • When cooked calamari is more tender than squid and this issue is the reason for another main difference between squid and calamari: the price! Calamari is much more expensive than squid.
seafood stew with calamari recipe

Ingredients

Calamari:

  • The only kind of calamari available around here are frozen calamari tubes. They are cleaned and without any tentacles.
  • Best is to defrost the tubes in the fridge overnight. If you forgot about it the night before, you can also defrost them by placing them in a freezer bag and then in cold water for about 30 minutes or until defrosted.

Vegetables:

  • I used onions, garlic, tomatoes and capers. Nothing facing, plain cheap ingredients that make up for the more expensive calamari.
calamari in sauce

Chili:

  • Use long red chili peppers. The ones I can buy here are medium hot, I never use more than 1 and I always remove the seeds. If you like the seafood stew to be spicier, leave the seeds or use more than 1 chili, your decision.

Olives:

  • I am very particular when it comes to olives, I cannot stand the brined pitted olives that are sold in jars, I think they taste of nothing but water.
  • I always buy vacuum-packed unpitted black olives, Calamari Stew in Tomato Sauce that have a really strong and extremely delicious taste. (Amazon affiliate link)
  • But I understand that not everybody feels the way I do about olives, so do use other kinds of olives, if you like.
  • Normally, I make the calamari in the sauce using black olives, however, green olives are fine as well, if you happen to have them.
ingredients calamari stew

How to make?

This recipe is so simple, perfect if you are not comfortable with cooking calamari. It can be difficult to cook them properly if you are not familiar with it, usually, they need less than a minute in a pan, more and it will become tough.

But, when stewing calamari in a sauce you are on the safe side. The rings will need a rather long cooking time and this will bring them from the tender to the tough and then back to the tender stadium again.

Stewing on low heat for about 45 minutes will make the rings really tender and more delicious than you can possibly imagine right now.

This calamari in tomato sauce recipe is really a dish that you can serve to guests, you can be sure you can impress anybody with it! Provided they like seafood.

seafood stew with calamari recipe

Step by step:

  • Defrost the tubes in the refrigerator overnight. Or place them into a bag, place the bag in a bowl with cold water and let defrost for about 30 minutes (or as needed).
  • Clean and slice them into rings, about 2 cm/ 0.8 inch thick.
  • Chop the onions, garlic cloves and chili.
ingredients calamari stew
  • Saute the onions, garlic, and chili in the olive oil for a few minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste.
  • Add the tubes, tomatoes, whole thyme sprigs, bay leaves, some salt, and pepper.
  • Cover the pot, turn the heat down and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  • Add the chopped capers, pitted and sliced olives.
  • Continue cooking on a low flame, this time uncovered, for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves and serve immediately.
how to make calamari stew

PIN THIS FOR LATER

calamari in sauce

How to serve?

The calamari rings were really tender and the tomato sauce unbelievably aromatic and delicious. Everything was perfect with only some pieces of crusty white bread (baguette, ciabatta or other white bread) on the side. And you do need the bread, you will want to clean every drop of sauce off your plate with it.

Otherwise, if you are not keen on bread, I am sure this seafood stew will be delicious over pasta or rice as well. Or even better: creamy polenta!

If you like or are willing to try calamari, do give this dish a try, you will love it. Or why not try this other spaghetti with calamari and peas?

calamari in sauce
Calamari Stew in Tomato Sauce
stewed calamari and tomatoes on a plate

Calamari Stew in Tomato Sauce

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

The best calamari recipe I know! Tender calamari in sauce, this is an aromatic seafood stew that you will be making over and over again.

Ingredients

  • 500 g/ 1.1 lbs calamari tubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, about 150 g/ 5.3 oz
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 long red chili pepper, to taste (See note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (400 g/ 14 oz)
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 10 large black olives (See note 2)
  • fine sea salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Defrost the calamari tubes in the refrigerator overnight. Or give them to a bag, place the bag in a
    bowl with cold water and let defrost for about 30 minutes (or as needed).
  2. Clean the calamari tubes and slice them into rings, about 2 cm/ 0.8 inch thick. Finely chop the onions, garlic cloves and chili.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add the onions, garlic and chili and saute them for a few minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the calamari tubes, the tomatoes, whole thyme sprigs, bay leaves and some salt and pepper.
  6. Cover the pot, turn the heat down and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  7. In the meantime finely chop the capers, pit the olives and slice them.
  8. Add to the stew and continue cooking on a low flame, this time uncovered, for further 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves and serve immediately as suggested above.

Notes

  1. I use medium hot long red chilies, seeds removed. For a spicier calamari stew, use chili to taste.
  2. Green olives are fine as well, another flavor yet still delicious.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1/2 of the stew
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 583mgSodium: 1005mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 43g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

9 comments
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9 comments

[email protected] 11/09/2015 - 20:18

This calamari stew looks so good! The only way I know how to cook calamari is to fry it so I will have to try this!

Reply
Adina 11/09/2015 - 20:56

Thank you Christin. I hope you try it, let me know if you liked it.?

Reply
Tim 14/11/2017 - 16:01

Hi. Great recipe that works well in a slow cooker. A great way to return from work with a very tasty squid supper just waiting to be served! Thank you for a really delicious recipe.

Reply
Adina 14/11/2017 - 17:48

Hi Tim. Thank you for your feedback. I totally love this dish, I should make it again soon, we didn’t have it for at least half a year. I wish I had a slow cooker to try it. 🙂

Reply
victor grech 29/09/2018 - 05:02

oh my God the flavors are just unreal I soaked the calamari in white wine as I was preparing the onions etc. just lovely thanks for the recipe

Reply
Adina 29/09/2018 - 08:04

Thank you, Victor, I am so glad you enjoyed this dish, soaking the calamari sounds great! 🙂

Reply
Marvellina | What To Cook Today 01/09/2019 - 03:15

Calamari always have my vote! I do not like my seafood fried because I want to taste them the way they are. So, I believe you when you say this is better than the Chinese fried calamari! I hear you on the olives too. Absolutely hate olives in brine. I wish I could find the vacuum packed ones like you did. This stew looks amazing!!!

Reply
Penny Milner-Smyth 01/04/2020 - 21:09

Never cooked calamari before, and this recipe worked perfectly and gave exactly the desired result!

Reply
Adina 01/04/2020 - 21:50

So happy to hear it, Penny.

Reply

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