I finally can say I cook like my mother. One of my childhood memories is that of my mum coming home in a rush, putting down her bags and quickly starting washing and chopping vegetables. And at around 7pm, while I was sitting at the kitchen table doing my homework, the pressure cooker started hissing. Like an alarm bell, it told me dinner was close. I recently realised I missed that sound and, perhaps most importantly, I still didn’t know how splendidly quick and convenient cooking with a pressure cooker can be. So in early December I finally got one.
Since then I experimented with several recipes, chicken drumsticks with sweet potatoes, carrots and onions, a heart warming pasta e fagioli, soups and a lamb stew. But it was this calamari and potato stew that really stole the show. A real pescatarian feast.
Here is how I made it.
600g fresh baby calamari, cleaned
1 tbsp baking soda
1 bowl water
1 tbsp odourless coconut oil
1 celery stick, thinly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets in oil, thinly chopped
350g tomato passata (1/2 bottle) or one can chopped tomatoes
400g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped in big 4cm cubes
1 tbsp oregano (or a provençal herbs mix will do)
100ml white wine
a pinch of sea salt
100g small black olives
1 tbsp capers
Soak your calamari in a bowl of warm water and baking soda for 1 hour. This will make sure they are tender when cooked.
Melt the coconut oil at the bottom of your pressure cooker and fry the celery, onion, carrot and anchovy on low heat for about 3 minutes until the onions turn golden.
Add the tomatoes, potatoes, oregano, wine and salt. Close the pressure cooker, turn the heat on high and when it starts whistling, lower the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the pressure cooker by releasing pressure through the valve and stir the sauce. The potatoes should be half cooked by now.
Rinse the calamari under the tap to remove the baking soda and stir them in the pressure cooker. Add the olives and capers, close and turn the heat back on. Cook for a further 4 minutes. If using bigger squid instead of baby calamari, increase the time to 10 minutes.
After the time is up, you can turn off the heat, release the pressure and open your pressure cooker.
Your calamari are ready. Enjoy with a thick slice of toasted sourdough, garnished with dried oregano and sea salt flakes. Dip the bread in the sauce and dream of a mild Sicilian winter.