Quick Guide to the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Quick Guide to the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Recipes and insight from the Paganini family

Calamari Fritti with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Recipe by Loretta Paganini

Serves 8


2 lbs. cleaned squid,preferably small
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups cornmeal flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sea salt
8 cups vegetable oil 


Rinse squid under cold running water and lightly pat dry between paper towels. Leave tentacles whole and cut bodies (including flaps, if attached) crosswise into 1/3 inch wide rings, then reserve. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt and garlic in a shallow bowl. Have a medium-mesh sieve in another shallow bowl ready. Heat 3 inches oil in a 5 quart heavy pot over high heat until it registers 365° F on a deep frying thermometer. While oil is heating, dip the squid in the buttermilk. Drain well and dredge a small handful of squid rings in flour mixture, tossing to coat well. Transfer to prepared sieve and shake over other bowl to remove excess flour. Fry floured rings in oil, stirring to separate, until golden, about 2-3 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to dry paper towels to drain, arranging in 1 layer. 

Calamari Fritti with Spicy Tomato Sauce continued…. Coat and fry remaining rings in about 4 more batches in same manner, returning oil to 365° F between batches. Transfer fried and drained rings to a shallow baking pan in 1 layer. 
Coat and fry tentacles in 2 or 3 batches until golden, about 2 minutes per batch, returning oil to 365°F between batches and transferring as fried to paper towels, then to baking pan.  Serve with spicy tomato sauce. 

Spicy Tomato Sauce

Recipe by Loretta Paganini

Makes 3-4 cups


2 lbs. ripe Italian plum tomatoes
1 small onion, finely minced
1 small carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. hot pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 cups tomato sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a 2-quart pot, blanch tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes.  Drain, then peel. Chop and set aside.Prepare a soffritto.  In a 6-quart stock pot, sauté onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the olive oil until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.  Add prepared tomatoes and hot pepper. Cook at medium heat for 20 minutes, or until reduced.  Add basil. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes. 

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