Calamari Stew with Saffron and Cilantro Rice

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Calamari Stew with Saffron and Cilantro Rice (Wendy Goodfriend)

"The calamari stew and the saffron rice go well together, but each could also be served on its own. Saffron (the dried pistils of crocuses) is very expensive but worth it. Make certain that you buy real saffron, the best of which comes from Spain or Iran.

"Fresh or frozen calamari can be used in this dish. I often use frozen cilantro in the rice: When I get a bunch of fresh cilantro, I usually use the leaves and freeze the stems. Then, when I need cilantro, I chop the frozen stems, which break easily into small pieces." --Jacques Pépin

Recipe: Calamari Stew with Saffron and Cilantro Rice

Serves 4

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen squid (bodies and tentacles), defrosted if frozen
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1⁄4 cup diced (1⁄2-inch) celery
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • One 14 1⁄2-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cilantro Rice (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  1. Cut the calamari into 2-inch pieces and wash thoroughly under cool water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Put the calamari in a bowl and sprinkle the saffron on top, crushing it between your index finger and thumb as you add it. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed. (This can be done hours ahead.)
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside until serving time. (This can be done a couple of hours ahead.)
  3. At serving time, add the calamari to the saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer at just under a boil for 10 minutes.
  4. Divide the rice among four soup plates, making a well in the center of each serving. Spoon the calamari stew into the wells, sprinkle with the chives, and serve.

Cilantro Rice

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (see headnote)
  • 1 cup Carolina long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cilantro and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice and mix well, then add the stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook the rice for 20 minutes, or until tender. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Recipes from Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2015 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.