Fried Rice Stuffed Calamari With A Spicy Tomato, Lemon And Basil Stew

I like stuffing things. Foodwise. Perhaps it’s the excitement of knowing that there’s a little treat tucked away in the center of something that already looked yummy to begin with. Or perhaps it’s the greed in me that just wants to gobble up anything rocking that swollen look. (Hmm. Probably the latter). Either way, whenever there’s an opportunity to stuff, I get stuffin’. Which is why today’s dish excites me so…

Rice is one of my favourite foods. Shove that inside calamari – another favourite – and magic happens. Now I actually first saw this done back when I was in culinary school, but I’ve decided to play with that idea by adding an African twist. Today’s rice stuffing will be fried with ground meat and sautéed vegetables, and to accompany this bad boy is pretty much a marriage between pesto and Nigerian stew, with a hint of this and a splash of that….Check it out:


Yields 4 Servings


2 cups chicken stock

1 cup long grain rice

100g ground meat (pork/beef/both)

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1tbs thyme

75g mushrooms, diced

10g brandy

2 cloves of garlic, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 habanero pepper, diced (optional for extra spice)

2 medium tomatoes, without skin and roughly chopped (see tomato fondue directions for tips on removing skin)

2 – 4tbs curry powder

½ an egg, beaten

Spicy Tomato, Lemon and Basil Stew

½ pt (U.S.) of tomato stew (**make ½ creamy tomato stew recipe but skip the cream and can substitute oxtail cooking liquid for any meat or chicken stock**)

Bunch fresh basil, picked

Pine nuts, toasted

Parmesan cheese, grated

Lemon’s zest and juice

Olive oil

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Balsamic vinegar


12 squid bodies, cleaned

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Oil, as needed


5 or so baby basil leaves picked from bunch (or micro greens)

1 cherry tomato, quartered

1 lemon wedge


1. Boil chicken stock, add rice, partially cover and cook until done (rice can be a little underdone at this stage). Be sure to check doneness frequently and add more stock (or water) if needed. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Begin to make tomato stew as in Creamy Oxtail Stew with Sweet Potato Cakes recipe.

3. Place oil in frying pan over high heat. Season ground meat with salt, pepper and thyme. Add to pan and, using a wooden spoon, break into very small chunks. Fry until browned.

4. Remove excess oil from pan and add white wine. Reduce wine by at least half and set aside.
5. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and simmer onions over low-medium heat until lightly browned. 5-10 minutes.
6. At the same time, heat oil in another pan over high heat and when hot, sauté mushrooms until lightly browned. Remove excess oil and flambé with brandy. Combine with onions and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

7. Heat some oil in a frying pan and sauté garlic over low heat. When it begins to colour, add peppers. Cook until softened then add tomatoes. Simmer for about 5-10 more minutes or until most of the excess liquid has gone. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and combine with mushroom and onions.

9. In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry rice in batches with enough curry powder to colour and taste. Season with salt and pepper. Be careful not to overcook rice or it will become hard.

10. Combine ground meat, sautéed veg and rice in a pan. Cook together over low heat to marry flavours. Check and adjust seasoning. Transfer to bowl and set aside to cool a bit.

10. In a blender add basil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan and lemon zest. Start blender and slowly stream in olive oil until pesto is just thick enough to spread, but not runny. Mix in salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
11. Combine spicy tomato stew and lemon pesto in a 50:50 ratio. Finish with balsamic vinegar to taste. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

12. Once cooled, add half beaten egg to bowl of stuffing and mix till it holds well together. Add more egg if needed, though you likely won’t need more than a whole egg. Place stuffing in a pastry bag.

13. Fill cleaned squid bodies with stuffing till two thirds full so that stuffing doesn’t spill out when searing. Season with salt and pepper.

14. To finish, coat a pan with some oil and heat to medium-high. Without overcrowding pan, sear squid bodies until lightly browned. This should take roughly 4 minutes depending on the size of the bodies. Make sure the center is heated, too. In the same pan, sauté tentacles until cooked – about a minute.
15. Plate as you’d like with sauce, cherry tomatoes, basil and lemon wedge. Enjoy!