Squid with Peas (Calamari con Piselli) is a classic recipe of Italian cuisine. The intense flavor of the squid goes perfectly with the sweetness of the peas. Squid and Peas represents the ideal solution to offer your guests, a really delicious and particular fish dish.
The recipe for Calamari with Peas is common throughout Italy, from north to south with very small regional differences.
We are going to show you the two classic Italian way to make calamari and peas: WITH and WITHOUT tomato passata. Squid and peas with tomato is most common in Rome and central Italy. The recipe WITHOUT tomato is more popular in northern Italy, especially in the Veneto region.
Calamari with peas is a light and delicious fish recipe that can become even a tasty pasta sauce.
Of course, we recommend using fresh ingredients, but even frozen ingredients will do, especially in winter when there are no fresh peas. By avoiding shelling the peas and cleaning the squid, the process will be faster, but the flavor will definitely be less intense.
So now let’s see how to make squid and peas recipe!
Squid with Peas Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 Min
- Cook Time: 30 Min
- 500 g (1,1 pound) of cleaned squid (frozen or fresh)
- 450 g (2 cups) of shelled green peas
- 150 ml (1/2 cup) of dry white wine
- 350 ml ( 2/3 cup) of Tomato Passata
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 medium onion
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 fresh red hot chili peppers or dried red hot chili pepper (optional)
- salt and pepper
PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU START!
- You can use fresh or frozen calamari. If you are using frozen squid, remember to defrost them in the refrigerator at least a few hours ahead of time. Either way, you need to CLEAN THE SQUID before you start cooking them. You can buy them already clean, ask the fishmonger to clean them for you or clean them yourself. In this last case, carefully read the paragraph below “How to Clean Calamari”.
- If you use FREASH PEAS you’ll obviously have to shell them and rinse them. Furthermore they have a longer cooking time than frozen ones, so follow carefully the instructions below.
- If you want to make the recipe for Squid and Peas “in Bianco” (that is WITHOUT TOMATOES), then skip step number 4.
Step 1) – Once you have cleaned the calamari (read the paragraph below “How to Clean Calamari”): if they are medium to large in size like ours, cut them into rings or pieces and set aside. Otherwise, if they are baby squid, you can also leave them whole.
Step 2) – In a fairly large skillet, heat the oil with two peeled garlic cloves. After about two minutes, add the thinly chopped onion. Sauté over low heat until the onion is soft and translucent.
Step 3) – Then add the squid. Cook along with the onion and garlic to flavor them, for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you’re using fresh peas like we did, add them now. If you’re using frozen or canned peas, however, add them 10 minutes before the end of cooking time (step 5).
Now add the white wine, stir and let it evaporate. Finally, remove the garlic cloves and add the hot chilli pepper (optional).
Step 4) – Now add the tomato passata and mix all well.
Step 5) – Add a little fine salt to taste and a little freshly ground black pepper. Stir and lower the heat. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes until the squid is tender. The squid should not overcook or it will become hard and rubbery.
If using frozen or canned peas, add them 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
Step 6) – After about 30 minutes, the squid with peas are ready. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
You can store Squid with peas in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. You can only freeze it if you have used fresh ingredients.
How to Clean Calamari
Cleaning squid is one of the those things that many consider to be the most boring in the kitchen. Sometimes even complicated. In reality, it’s much simpler than it looks like. So let’s see together how to clean calamari in few easy steps!
Step 1) – First, remove the tentacles. So, grab the squid’s head with one hand and its body with the other. Gently pull the head to remove the entrails. Then remove the hard clear cartilage from the body.
Step 2) – Remove the horny beak located in the center of the tentacles, the eyes and all the surrounding part with the help of scissors or a knife.
Step 3) – Remove the skin and rinse the calamari under running water to remove any residue, being careful not to break them. Wash also the inside of the calamari and the tentacles as well, to remove any residual sand. Dry with kitchen paper and set aside, ready to be used in your fantastic squid recipes!
Squid with Peas: Some Variants
Like any traditional recipe, even for this one there are several versions. Let’s see some of them.
Squid with Peas without Tomatoes
Squid with peas without tomatoes (Calamari con Piselli in Bianco) is a more popular recipe in northern Italy, especially in the Veneto region.
It’s a drier dish than calamari with tomato sauce, often served as an appetizer or second course accompanied with a side of mashed potatoes.
The recipe for Calamari and peas with no tomato is the same as the one we described above, without step number 4. If the squid gets too dry during cooking, add a little water.
For a more aromatic touch, you can add brandy instead of white wine.
Add some grated lemon zest before serving the dish for a fresh touch!
You can even enjoy squid and peas without tomato sauce at room temperature, especially during hot weather as a summer dish.
Calamari with Peas and Fresh Tomatoes
Instead of the tomato passata, you can also use fresh tomatoes, preferably cherry.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add them during step 4. If the squid gets too dry during cooking, add a little water.
Calamari with Potatoes and Peas
Calamari with potatoes and peas is another classic Italian recipe.
Follow the steps in this recipe carefully and add the raw potatoes cut into pieces when adding the peas. The cooking time for fresh peas and potatoes is about half an hour, for potatoes cut into walnut-sized pieces.
Also for this recipe you can add tomato sauce or go without. So decide whether to skip step 4 or not.
Cuttlefish with Peas | Seppie con Piselli
Cuttlefish with Peas is a very famous Italian recipe, hard to find abroad. This is due to the difficulty of finding cuttlefish in many foreign countries. But don’t worry because this is the recipe you need to make, whether you use cuttlefish, baby cuttlefish, squid, baby squid or giant squid!
Squid and cuttlefish are very similar, but they are not the same. They are cephalopod mollusks. Both have 10 oral arms, 2 of which are longer. The body of the squid is more tapered, while the cuttlefish has a wider body.
Squid and cuttlefish are widely used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. We cook them in many ways: stuffed, grilled, fried or stewed.
Cuttlefish are also used for the black ink they have to make pasta or risotto “Al Nero di Seppia”.
Squid vs Calamari
Are we sure that Calamari and Squid are the same thing? There are conflicting views about this.
Many believe that the word “Calamari” is the Italian translation of the word “Squid” and that the former is mainly used for cooked molluscs, the latter to refer to the animal species.
For many others the words are synonyms for all intents and purposes.
For others again they are different species of mollusks.
We suggest a very comprehensive article on the subject, titled “Ask George: Is there a difference between calamari and squid?“, if you want to get rid of this curiosity and get more information about calamari.
Surely calamari and squid are very, very similar and maybe it’s not the case of getting tired and confused too much!