Calamari Fra Diavolo

The past few weeks the squid have been thick as fleas at the Nahant wharf. Ben and I have been catching our fill of the tasty  little buggers. With a mild taste and needing minimal cooking time, calamari are ideally suited to sauces. Here’s one I adapted for them from a dish originally designed for shrimp. It also takes advantage of the fresh herbs abundant in the garden this time of year. Serve alone or over pasta or rice.

The quantities are rough and can be scaled to taste.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes (this does not include any time needed to dress the squid)
  • Cooking Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Servings:  8 servings


  • 2 large (28 oz) cans of whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 medium (approx 8 inches long) squid heads, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Salt to taste (1 tsp approx)


  1. In a pot, heat 2 tbsp of the oil. Concurrently, in a saute pan, heat the other two tsp.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onions to pot and the sausage to the sautee pan.
  3. Brown the sausage. Then remove it from the heat and place in a colander to drain.
  4. When the onion is translucent, add the tomatoes, wine, garlic, and oregano. As you add them, squeeze each tomato in your hand to reduce it to a rough pulp. Also pour in the juice from the tomatoes.
  5. Stir the mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir from time to time, making sure not to burn the sauce.
  6. Add the sausage, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp salt. Stir and return to simmer for 10 minutes. While it cooks, taste the sauce and adjust the ingredients as necessary.
  7. Add the calamari and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Calamari takes very little time to cook so take care not to overcook it!

Preparation/Cooking Notes

  • Make sure the calamari is well-drained before you add it. If necessary, pat it dry with a paper towel. The sauce will coat it much better than if it is wet.
  • Two teaspoons of red pepper flakes makes for a nicely spicy sauce.  I would not recommend more. For people who prefer less spice, use only 1 teaspoon.


  • Shrimp can be used in place of or in addition to the calamari.
  • While you can substitute crushed or even ground tomatoes, whole tomatoes give the dish a much more interesting texture.

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