lemon & herb butter calamari, the UK & a niece

When I think calamari I think Italian – garlic, wine, lemon & fresh herbs…some olive oil…some butter all working cohesively in a hot, cast-iron pan to flavor & cook to perfection the delicate calamari, that’s then tossed through al dente homemade pasta with some spring peas thrown in for color & sweetness. That’s how I imagined the calamari pasta to be that my niece was enjoying in Scotland just last week. I know this because currently I’m living vicariously through my one & only niece as she lives & works in England for a year & gets to explore the United Kingdom & Europe on her days off. I love to hear about what she’s eating & see the pics she texts me of her culinary adventures. The calamari pasta she ordered at a swanky Italian restaurant was the inspiration for this recipe. My regret was I wished I’d been enjoying the meal at the table with her instead of thousands of miles away…especially when she got to the lemon dessert!

calamari pasta

 The UK is a place I long to travel to but haven’t had the opportunity. One would think with almost 50 years on this planet & a father born & raised in England, I’d have made it over to that part of the world by now. I’m saddened to say I haven’t…yet. See that’s what happens when you live away from your homeland: When I have the chance to get away & do some traveling I’m usually torn between heading home to Australia or seeing more of the world. And so far, Australia has won –  every time. But, thanks to lots of points acquired from those countless long flights back home, I’m determined to get to England this year…stay tuned. 

lemon calamari

Enough about travel for the moment & back to the food. Calamari & squid are not the same – let’s just get that out there. And squid does not become calamari when cooked. Generally, calamari are more expensive than squid because they’re considered to be more tender & therefore optimum quality. At the end of the day if you cook either of them for too long (unless you’re going for a long, slow cook) they’ll both become tough, regardless of how much you paid. The easiest way to tell them apart when they’re whole is calamari have fins that extend the length of the hood (body). Squid fins are shorter, located at the tip of the hood. I’ve cooked both & if you know what you’re doing & you’ve bought fresh, smaller hoods chances are they’ll both be tender. Remember, don’t overcook – just hot, quick heat. And don’t marinate them in an acid such as lime or vinegar first then attempt to cook them. They’ll be chewy & inedible – yes, speaking from experience prior to three years at culinary school. Cook them right & you’ll be rewarded with calamari (or squid) that’s both tender & delicious. 

storming calamari

lemon & herb butter calamari pasta
Serves 2
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
32 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
32 min
  1. 6 to 8 oz (170-225g) linguine or spaghetti
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 tablespoon butter
  4. 12 oz (340g) calamari or squid hoods, cleaned and cut into rings
  5. salt & freshly ground pepper
  6. 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  7. 1/2 cup white wine
  8. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  9. 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  10. 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  12. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  13. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  14. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  15. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  1. To make the herb butter: Combine 1/4 cup of butter, basil, parsley & oregano in a small bowl. Use a fork to ensure the butter & herbs are well incorporated; set aside.
  2. Cook linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. While pasta is cooking heat oil & butter in a large frying pan over high heat until hot. Pat any moisture off calamari using paper towel. Add calamari, salt & pepper to the hot pan in two batches. Cook for about 2 minutes or until just cooked; remove to a plate. Cook remaining calamari; set aside.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add garlic & a little more oil if needed. Cook garlic 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant & softened.
  5. Increase heat to medium. Add wine & simmer until reduced by half. Add zest, juice & a pinch of salt & pepper.
  6. Stir in peas, hot, cooked linguine & herb butter mixture. Stir until linguine is coated in butter mixture. Stir in calamari. Serve immediately.
The Fresh Aussie http://thefreshaussie.com/




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  1. Lawrence says:

    This dish looks and sounds amazing, can’t wait to try it!

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