Crispy Calamari and Zucchini
Serves 4 as an appetizer
- Large Bowl
- Small sauce pan
- Large skillet
- 8 oz calamari a mix of tentacles and bodies, bodies cut into rings, tentacles left whole
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- 1 medium zucchini cut into matchsticks
- ½ cup sliced hot cherry peppers optional
- fresh basil leaves optional
- lemon wedges for serving
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 4-5 calabrian chilis minced
- 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes hand crushed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Begin by marinating the calamari. Place calamari in a large bowl and cover with buttermilk. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
- While calamari marinates, prepare the sauce.
- In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and chilis, and sweat until aromatic.
- Add in crushed tomatoes and stir.
- Let sauce simmer on low while the calamari marinates. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper at the end.
- Next, prepare the flour dredge. In a large bowl whisk, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne.
- When you are ready to fry, add enough canola oil to a large skillet to come up about 1/2 inch. Heat until hot (between 325-350ºF).
- When oil is ready, add some of the zucchini and hot peppers to the buttermilk with the calamari, and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or your hands remove zucchini, peppers and calamari from the buttermilk and shake off excess liquid.
- Add them directly to the flour dredge. Toss to coat in flour and shake off excess dredge. Carefully transfer them to the hot oil and fry until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from oil, and season with salt. Repeat frying process with all remaining calamari, zucchini and hot peppers.
- Fry the fresh basil leaves in the hot oil until crispy, about 3 minutes. Careful when adding them to the oil, they may pop a bit.
- Serve crispy calamari with fried basil, marinara and fresh lemons on the side.
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