Stuffed calamari in lemon butter sauce – these delicious calamari bites stuffed with creamy tuna filling, then cooked in a tangy lemon butter sauce, with capers, garlic and lots of fresh parsley, are the perfect fancy meal for a special occasion.
When you hear calamari, you most certainly imagine fried calamari rings, with some sort of dipping sauce. But when you look at the uncooked calamari tubes at the seafood counter, the first thing that pops in your head is – stuff them! Their cone-shape bodies just beg to be stuffed with something. Here I’ve filled them with a delicious tuna stuffing, and cooked them in a luscious garlic and lemon butter sauce. This dish is hearty enough as a main, accompanied by a side of veggies, or a green salad, but it can also serve as a great starter, due to the shape and size of the stuffed calamari parcels.
The first time I bought calamari tubes, they had their heads, tentacles, skin and all still attached. I had to behead them, remove the insides, and then de-skin them. That was more of a hassle than a challenge but still, the next time around, I searched for pre-cleaned calamari tubes. I found some beautiful, fresh-smelling, and perfectly cleaned ones at Wholefoods.
Stuffing possibilities are endless, and my first attempt was with some sort of sausage filling. Although they turned out good, the sausage was too overpowering and I couldn’t really tell that I’m eating calamari.
In this version, I chose tuna, mixed with mayonnaise, and flavored with green onions, garlic, lemon, capers and Parmesan cheese and it works great with the mild calamari taste. I quickly seared the stuffed calamari on all sides, then finished cooking them in a sauce of white wine, garlic, butter, lemon and capers. I served them with fresh parsley and squeezed some fresh lemon juice on top.
For best results when stuffing the calamari, choose bigger tubes – ones that are at least 3 inches long, if possible. Put the stuffing in a ziplock bag, cut a big opening on one end, and use it to pipe in the stuffing in the calamari tube (make sure the stuffing is smooth, by running it in a food processor). Alternatively, use a tiny spoon, or your fingers. Do not stuff them all the way as they puff up during the cooking, and may explode!
It’s not a weeknight meal, but if you have a special occasion coming (Valentine’s comes to mind) I highly recommend this treat! It comes out in about an hour or less, and you really can’t beat the fancy looks, or taste for that special occasion!
Enjoy with a glass of good, chilled dry white wine!
- 1 lbs calamari tubes about 12-13 3-inch ones
- 2 cans solid canned tuna
- 2 large Tbs capers
- 4 Tbs mayonnaise
- 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3-4 scallions
- For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup wine
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- 1 Tbs capers
- fresh parsley salt and pepper
Rinse the calamari tubes, then dry, and let them marinate in some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper for half an hour.
Meanwhile, mash the tuna with the mayonnaise, and olive oil, until creamy. Add the pressed garlic, black pepper, chopped scallions, capers, and Parmesan cheese, and mix well until smooth, and no big chunks of tuna are visible.
If your calamari came with their tentacles, chop them up, and quickly saute them with salt and pepper, then add them to the filling as well.
Stuff each tube with the filling, about 2/3 full, then seal the tube with a toothpick. Place the filling in a ziplock bag with a wide opening cut on one end, to pipe in the filling into the calamari tubes, or use a small spoon to stuff it in. Alternatively, try with your fingers.
Preheat oven to 425° F.
Heat some oil in a cast iron pan, until very hot, and sear the calamari tubes in the oil, until they get a nice color on all sides. Do in it batches, so they are not too crowded.
Once all the calamari are seared, place them all back in the pan, add the wine, minced garlic, capers, lemon juice and butter. Season with salt and pepper, and place in the oven loosely covered with foil, for about 20 minutes.
Serve with more fresh lemon juice, and fresh parsley.