A note about cleaning squid: The head and tentacles separate from the mantle fairly easily. On smaller specimens it’s difficult to pull out the viscera without bursting the ink sac in the process, but with larger squid you can first remove a long, hard, transparent shaft called the pen and then slide out the viscera intact, after which you can prick the ink sac and drain its ambrosial contents into a small receptacle for later use.

Should you burst the ink sac in the cleaning process, you can still recover much of the ink simply by squeezing it out of the mantle, although it will be diluted. (If you prove less than adept, there are specialty food shops online that carry small sachets of ink for decent prices.) Next, clean any remaining gunk out of the mantle’s interior and peel off the skin layer. Use a sharp knife to cut the tentacles away from the head just below the eye; make sure you discard the hard beak at the center. Now you can slice the mantle into calamari rings or strips, or leave it whole for stuffing. With some proficiency, the cleaning process shouldn’t take more than a minute or so per squid.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 1 hour


3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup fresh basil, rough cut
1 cup tomato sauce
1 pound squid, cleaned and cut into
1 tsp (or more) squid ink
2 cups Arborio rice
8–10 cups fish or clam broth
8 tbsp butter
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper to taste


Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add parsley and basil, followed by tomato sauce. Stir in squid and ink; taste and add salt if desired, and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in rice and continue stirring for 5 minutes. Add hot broth 1 or 2 ladlefuls at a time, stirring constantly, until rice is al dente, about 30 minutes. Stir in butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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