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Calamari tube piccata

Calamari tube piccata

(Recipe, photography & styling by Ilse van der Merwe

At the height of the summer festive season, we all need a handful of quick, fuss-free recipes that you can whip up in a flash when you have friends over. Calamari piccata is one of my top choices, as it makes a great shared-plate starter and pairs well with a chilled white wine like the Radford Dale Vinum Chenin Blanc. Be sure to serve with crusty baguette to mop up the delicious sauce!


Ingredients: (serves 3-4 as a light meal or starter)

15 ml extra virgin olive oil

500 g small calamari tubes (and tentacles, if you prefer), thawed if frozen, rinsed and pat dry

15 ml (1 tablespoon) baby capers

a splash of dry white wine

60 ml butter

1 small clove garlic, finely grated

finely grated rind and juice of a lemon

salt & pepper, to taste

a handful Italian parsley, finely chopped

a handful chives or dill, finely chopped (optional)

two lemon halves, grilled on the cut side, to serve (optional)

fresh baguette, for dipping


Heat a large skillet or non-stick pan over medium high heat until it almost reaches smoking point. Add the oil and immediately the calamari and capers. Fry the calamari on one side until it gets some colour, then fry on the other side until just cooked. Add a splash of wine and reduce slightly, then remove from the heat and add the butter and garlic, stirring until the butter has melted completely in the residual heat.

Add the lemon rind and juice, season with salt & pepper, and stir through the herbs. Serve at once, with some bread for dipping.

Note: A classic veal piccata is made with cutlets dredged in flour to thicken the sauce, but I don’t add flour to this recipe, keeping it lighter and the sauce thinner. You are welcome to lightly dredge some of the calamari in flour before frying, and to add a few tablespoons chicken stock at the end, for a saucier result. Simmer until thickened, and serve as above, or with freshly cooked pasta.

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