Calamari with Tomatoes, Caper Berries, and Basil
This slightly spicy sauce is referred to as all'acqua pazza in Italian, which means "crazy water."
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (optional)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 whole garlic clove
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled plum tomatoes with juice, crushed
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 small dried red chile, such as chile de árbol crumbled
- 8 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
- 2 strips (each 3 inches) orange zest
- Coarse salt
- 1 1/2 pounds small calamari (bodies and tentacles), rinsed and dried
- 1/2 cup large caper berries
- 6 slices rustic bread, such as pugliese or ciabatta
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and shallots, and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juice, wine, water, chile, basil, orange zest, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer gently until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, using a kitchen mallet, pound both sides of calamari bodies a few times to tenderize, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rings. (Leave tentacles whole, or halve if large.)
Add calamari and caper berries to sauce. Cook until calamari are opaque, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in another skillet. Rub bread with garlic clove. Add clove to oil, and cook 2 minutes. Add bread, and fry, flipping once, until golden and crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes total. Put 1 slice of bread into each serving bowl, and top with calamari and sauce. Season with pepper. Drizzle with oil if desired, and garnish with basil.