Calamari with Tomatoes, Caper Berries, and Basil

This slightly spicy sauce is referred to as all'acqua pazza in Italian, which means "crazy water."

  • Servings: 6
Calamari with Tomatoes, Caper Berries, and Basil

Source: Martha Stewart Living, July 2007


  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.)

  3. Add calamari and caper berries to sauce. Cook until calamari are opaque, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

  4. 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.


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