For best results use young calamari that are no longer than 3 to 4 inches. When the calamari are young and tender, cooking time should be minimal. Fishermen in the Adriatic each freshly caught young calamari raw, with just a squeeze of lemon. This dish makes a wonderful main course, too.
- 1 pound calamari with body sacs no longer than 3 ½ to 4 inches cleaned and skinned
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- Pinch of peperoncino (crushed red pepper)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- Assorted salad greens, washed and dried and dressing, optional
Cut the body of the calamari open along one side so they lay flat. If necessary, scrape the inside clean with the back of a knife. In a bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil, thyme, peperoncino and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the calamari bodies and tentacles and toss well. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate up to one day. Heat a griddle or large, heavy non-stick skillet over medium heat 5 minutes. Add as many of the calamari pieces as will fit in a single layer. As the calamari cooks, they will roll into tight cylinders. Continue cooking until the calamari is golden brown in places and tender, about 5 minutes. Add more calamari pieces to the griddle as room becomes available. Sprinkle the cooked calamari with chopped parsley and serve over greens as a first course, or with toothpicks for spearing as a passed hors d’oeuvre.