It is now Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Church, as Easter is always celebrated AFTER Passover. So I'm trying to abide by fasting rules when possible: primarily the prohibition of meat (including poultry), dairy products, fish (except Palm Sunday), olive oil and wine -- with a various exceptions like wine and oil on weekends (except Holy Saturday). Fruits, vegetables, grains and shellfish are permitted throughout the year. Cuttlefish and octopus can be eaten during Lent as they do not have red blood. As a child, I could hardly wait for the time when we had to drink Seven-Up instead of milk. In Greece, we drank ouzo...
In any case, I have been tinkering with a braised cuttlefish (large calamari) recipe ever since I discovered packages of 4-5 frozen large cuttlefish tubes for about $5 at a neighborhood supermarket. My mission was to demystify/simplify and also add a vegetable to the mix:
Braised Cuttlefish w/Zuccini
4-5 cuttlefish tubes
sea salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
1/4 c. olive oil (on weekends)
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 Bay leaf
1/4 c. red or white wine (optional)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
3-4 minced garlic cloves or a dollop or two of garlic paste
2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 good-sized zucchini, sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Defrost/wash cuttlefish and lay them in whatever baking dish you have that will accommodate them in one tight layer. Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Let sit for a bit.
2. Cover with sliced onion. Add mixture of vegetable broth, tomato paste, Bay Leaf, and wine. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Meanwhile mix and marry the diced tomatoes, garlic, and Greek oregano.
3. Remove baking dish from oven and increase oven temp to 400 degrees. Add the zucchini slices and spoon the tomato mixture over all. Baked covered for 20 minutes and uncovered till zucchini is cooked.
The cuttlefish will be tender like butter, guaranteed. A real Lenten treat!
(Note serving option: soup bowl with the juices and good bread)