There are 20 countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, all with different cultures and different languages. These countries include Gibraltar, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Turkey from the Southwestern and Eastern parts of Europe; Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine (The Gaza Strip) from the Levantine Coast, which flows from North to South; and Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco from the Northeastern and Western parts of Africa. Surprisingly though, with all their differences, these countries share a lot of similarities in their foods. A lot of fresh vegetables, a wide variety of grains, nuts, olives and olive oil and seafood are very significant foods enjoyed in all the diets of the Mediterranean people. Aside from being very delicious foods, these foods are also very healthy as well. A Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest diets around, if not the healthiest diet. It also just happens to be one of my favorites. We eat and enjoy a lot of Mediterranean influenced foods.
Usually when people think of calimari, they think of the very popular and delicious fried version, that is found around the world. I love this kind of calimari too, and we eat it quite often. But this certainly is not the only way to eat calimari. No, no. There are many ways to eat this delicious, vitamin-packed gem of the sea. Calimari is rich in protein (16 grams per 3.5-ounce serving), B vitamins and vitamin C, and depending on how it is cooked, it is very low in calories too. I also love calimari steaks too, but here in the Denver area, they are not common and are often hard to find. When I do see them though, I always buy some. Calimari steaks are the circular pieces cut from the mantles of large squid. They are usually tenderized while they are being processed, and are often used as a cheaper alternative to abalone, which is very expensive, and in a lot of places, illegal to catch. The first meal I prepared in my newly painted kitchen was a delicious meal of Mediterranean calimari steaks over pasta, served with garlic cheese bread along with a dry and crisp chardonnay on the side. My Newly Painted Kitchen
I just love cooking with everything fresh, from my herbs to my vegetables. I always try to put in as many vegetables into my recipes as I can too.
Mediterranean Calimari Steaks
4 or 5 tomatoes – as you can see I used a wide variety of tomatoes – if they are smaller tomatoes, just cut them in half, if they are larger tomatoes, cut them into a medium dice
1 lb calimari steaks
2 TBSP garlic
1 crookneck (yellow squash), sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup olives, cut in half – again I used a variety of olives
1-2 tsp each of fresh oregano, basil, thyme and sage, chopped fine
1/2 cup dry white wine – preferably the same wine you are drinking with the meal
2 TBSP lemon juice
salt & pepper and lemon pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmagiano cheese
Saute all the heartier vegetables in olive oil until they are tender. Then add the tomatoes and wine. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down. Then add the olives, lemon juice, fresh herbs and seasonings.
While the vegetables are cooking, in a separate skillet or pan, cook the calimari steaks. Lightly salt and pepper the calimari steaks on both sides and pan fry in olive oil for about 2 minutes per side, or until they are lightly golden on both sides. DO NOT over cook the calimari or it will become tough and chewy.
I like to layer my dishes. I do it all the time. So cooked pasta first, then some of the delicious sauce, followed by the calimari, and topped again with more sauce, finished with fresh Parmigiano cheese. I cut my calimari into thin strips, but you can cut it however you like. There is no real right or wrong way to cut it. In case you have not figured it out already, I am all about the presentation of my foods, especially for the camera. After all, we taste with our eyes long before we taste with our taste buds. My husband teases about this all the time. Presentation is great, but really the most important part of a dish, any dish, is how it tastes. This one is a definite winner.