Recipe: The Stuff of Dreams! Stuffed Squid in Tomato Sauce

This is a great dinner party dish. It hits the Venn diagram sweet spot between something impressive that none of your friends can make, and something surprisingly undemanding in terms of time and skill.


A tasty stuffing goes inside the cavity of the squid’s body, which is then simmered in a simple tomato sauce until tender. The stuffing is made up of the squid’s tentacles, parsley, capers, anchovies, onion, Parmesan cheese and bound together with breadcrumbs and egg. 

The filling develops a wonderfully meaty flavour and firms up as it cooks.  Once ready, you simply cut it with its squid casing into delicious slices to serve. After an hour or so in the pan, the squid tube itself tenderises beautifully, while the tomato sauce becomes sweet and powerful in umami as it reduces and absorbs the other flavours. The dish is an absolute flavour bomb, with fantastic textures. 

Serve it with potatoes, or good crusty bread, with which you can mop up the rich red sauce. A fresh and herby salad will help cut through all that savouriness. In the picture above, we have served it with a parsley sauce. Your local fishmonger will usually have fresh squid; get them to clean the squid of its beak and innards.

Serves 4

  • 4 whole squid, cleaned, tentacles reserved
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6 anchovies, roughly chopped
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 100g breadcrumbs, or torn up bread (no crust)
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 2 tsp capers, roughly chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes/passata
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 small glass dry white wine
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

1 On a medium heat, sauté the onion in a pan with a few tablespoons of the oil, for around 10 mins, until soft. Meanwhile, remove the tentacles from the squid with a knife and chop into small pieces. 

2 Add the anchovy to the softened onions and continue to fry for a few mins until they melt into the mixture. Add the squid and cook for a further two mins. Turn off the heat, then stir in the breadcrumbs. Allow to cool for 5 mins.

3 Mix in the egg, parsley, Parmesan, capers and lemon zest. Once well combined, stuff the bodies of the squids well with the mixture. Don’t fill all the way to the top of the open end - leave at least a few centimetres free of filling. Push a toothpick through the two open sides of the squid to gently seal the filling in.

4 Fry the garlic on a medium heat in 3 tbsp of the olive oil in a deep pan. Once it starts to go golden, add the tomatoes, wine, chilli flakes, and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 3 mins, stirring, then add the squid, trying to keep the end which has been closed with the toothpick slightly raised. Perhaps use the inserted toothpick or the sides of the pan to prop up that end just a little. That way the filling will escape less easily. Put the lid on and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours, turning once, until the squid feels tender. If the sauce becomes to dry at any point, add a little water. 

5 Remove from the pan, cut into thick slices with a sharp knife. Serve with the tomato sauce from the pan. Enjoy!