Calamari and mushrooms

Calamari and mushrooms

calamari e funghi

4 as an antipasto
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

The first time I tasted this saucy dish of squid and mushrooms was at a restaurant that sits directly on a pretty, pebble-covered beach between Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano, and it struck me how perfectly symbolic of Argentario this dish was, with that strange but wonderful combination of mare e monti, or ‘sea and mountains’. It reminds me of a Japanese saying that my mother taught me to appreciate, that the perfect meal should include something from the sea and something from the mountains. And there are plenty of other wonderful combinations of local sea and mountain dishes in the Maremma – octopus cooked with red wine and chestnuts is another intriguing one.

You would normally prepare this with seppie (cuttlefish), which are large, warm-water-loving creatures popular in many cuisines of the Mediterranean, but calamari (squid) and calamaretti (baby squid) are similar and easier to find. This is usually served as part of antipasto (with plenty of bread to mop up the juices) but you could double the recipe and serve it as a main, or even use this as a sauce to go with pasta.


Quantity Ingredient
400g calamari
300g fresh mushrooms
60ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250ml white wine
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped


  1. First, clean the calamari. Cut off the head, and remove the eyes and the beak (you will find this in the middle of the tentacles – you can simply pull it out). Then reach into the body and remove the quill (a glassy strip inside the body that looks like it’s made of plastic) and pull out the entrails – do this gently if you want to keep the ink sac intact. You can use this for flavouring risotto or adding to pasta to colour it black. It’s also quite wonderful to serve with the Sea Bass Ragu. Slice the body in half lengthways and cut into thin strips cross-wise, about 1 cm wide. The tentacles can be left as they are if small, or cut in half lengthways.
  2. Clean the mushrooms of any dirt, trim the bottom of the stalks and slice or chop. Set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan over high heat and sear the calamari in the pan. Cook for 5–7 minutes or until the calamari is well browned and even begins sticking slightly to the pan.
  4. Add the garlic and the wine. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cover with a lid, and turn the heat down to low. Cook on low for about 30 minutes or until the calamari is extremely tender – the tip of a knife should easily slip in, like cutting butter. You may need to top up with water along the way to keep the calamari cooking in plenty of liquid.
  5. Add the mushrooms, along with about 125 ml of water. Bring back to a simmer and continue cooking a further 7–10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and cooked.
  6. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve warm with slices of firm, crusty bread.


  • Use a mixture of fresh mushrooms – poplar, porcini, chanterelles, button, whatever you can get your hands on.
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