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Greek Squid And Orzo

by . Featured in SIMPLY NIGELLA
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Introduction

The aniseed flavour that underscores this fabulously-easy baked squid and orzo pasta dish is gentle enough not to frighten away any but hardcore fennelphobes and, even then, I have surprised those who profess aniseed-antagonism with just how well it goes down. And it’s joyously simple to make, too: all it takes is a little desultory chopping and stirring, and then it cooks itself in the oven, until the squid is so tender that the lightest touch of a spoon cuts through it.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

The aniseed flavour that underscores this fabulously-easy baked squid and orzo pasta dish is gentle enough not to frighten away any but hardcore fennelphobes and, even then, I have surprised those who profess aniseed-antagonism with just how well it goes down. And it’s joyously simple to make, too: all it takes is a little desultory chopping and stirring, and then it cooks itself in the oven, until the squid is so tender that the lightest touch of a spoon cuts through it.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Greek Squid And Orzo
Photo by Keiko Oikawa

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6, AS A MAIN COURSE

Metric Cups
  • 2 banana shallots or 1 small red onion
  • ½ bulb fennel
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 x 15ml tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus a little more for later)
  • 600 grams squid (cleaned weight)
  • 300 grams orzo pasta
  • 1 x 400 grams can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon tomato puree
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons ouzo
  • large bunch (approx. 100g) fresh dill
  • 250 millilitres hot water (from a recently boiled kettle)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 banana shallots or 1 small red onion
  • ½ bulb fennel
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus a little more for later)
  • 1½ pounds squid (cleaned weight)
  • 1¾ cups orzo pasta
  • 14 ounces can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons ouzo
  • 4 ounces bunch (approx. 100g) fresh dill
  • 1 cup hot water (from a recently boiled kettle)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320℉ gas mark 3. Get out a large casserole or pan (one with a tight-fitting lid) that’s big enough to take everything, and that can go on the hob and into the oven later. The shallow casserole you can see in the picture is 30cm in diameter, and the one I always use.
  2. Peel and halve the banana shallots (or small red onion), then cut into chunky half-moons. Cut the core out of the fennel, and discard it, then slice the fennel, including the tubey parts, into rough chunks. Don’t discard the fronds. Press down on the garlic cloves with the side of a heavy knife to bruise them, then peel off the skins.
  3. Pour the olive oil into the pan, put it over a low heat and add the sliced shallots (or onion), chopped fennel and bruised garlic, along with the squid, left just as it is, and cook it all, stirring every now and again, for 10 minutes. The squid (and the fennel) will give out quite a bit of liquid, so you won’t be frying so much as braising.
  4. Stir in the orzo pasta and the chopped tomatoes. Add the tomato purée to the empty tomato tin, then fill it up with cold water and give it a good stir, before pouring this into the pan. Now pour in the ouzo and give the pan another stir. Do not season at this stage. Turn up the heat, and once it comes to a bubble, clamp on the lid, then transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes. When you’re near the end of the cooking time, finely chop the dill and boil the kettle.
  5. When time’s up, take the pan out of the oven and remove the lid. The orzo will have absorbed all the liquid and the squid should be tender enough to be cut into with a wooden spoon. Add the hot water and stir well to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom (these are the bits full of flavour). Add salt and pepper to taste and most of the chopped dill, then stir before putting the pan back in the oven, with the lid off, for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining dill, and eat with no more than a crisp green salad alongside. And if you wish to grate Parmesan over it as you eat, despite the Italian no-cheese-with-fish-pasta rule, I will not try to put you off. The Greeks do eat this with grated cheese after all.
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320℉ gas mark 3. Get out a large casserole or pan (one with a tight-fitting lid) that’s big enough to take everything, and that can go on the hob and into the oven later. The shallow casserole you can see in the picture is 30cm in diameter, and the one I always use.
  2. Peel and halve the banana shallots (or small red onion), then cut into chunky half-moons. Cut the core out of the fennel, and discard it, then slice the fennel, including the tubey parts, into rough chunks. Don’t discard the fronds. Press down on the garlic cloves with the side of a heavy knife to bruise them, then peel off the skins.
  3. Pour the olive oil into the pan, put it over a low heat and add the sliced shallots (or onion), chopped fennel and bruised garlic, along with the squid, left just as it is, and cook it all, stirring every now and again, for 10 minutes. The squid (and the fennel) will give out quite a bit of liquid, so you won’t be frying so much as braising.
  4. Stir in the orzo pasta and the diced tomatoes. Add the tomato purée to the empty tomato tin, then fill it up with cold water and give it a good stir, before pouring this into the pan. Now pour in the ouzo and give the pan another stir. Do not season at this stage. Turn up the heat, and once it comes to a bubble, clamp on the lid, then transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes. When you’re near the end of the cooking time, finely chop the dill and boil the kettle.
  5. When time’s up, take the pan out of the oven and remove the lid. The orzo will have absorbed all the liquid and the squid should be tender enough to be cut into with a wooden spoon. Add the hot water and stir well to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom (these are the bits full of flavour). Add salt and pepper to taste and most of the chopped dill, then stir before putting the pan back in the oven, with the lid off, for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining dill, and eat with no more than a crisp green salad alongside. And if you wish to grate Parmesan over it as you eat, despite the Italian no-cheese-with-fish-pasta rule, I will not try to put you off. The Greeks do eat this with grated cheese after all.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD / STORE NOTE:
It is not advisable to make ahead. Cool leftovers, then cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Will keep in fridge for up to 2 days. Leftovers are best served cold, with a spritz of lemon juice.

MAKE AHEAD / STORE NOTE:
It is not advisable to make ahead. Cool leftovers, then cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Will keep in fridge for up to 2 days. Leftovers are best served cold, with a spritz of lemon juice.

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What 2 Others have said

  • My most consulted recipe from simply. I like to mix in a bit of dried dill while the squid/veg saute and a little crumbled feta, but otherwise this recipe is perfect as-is.

    Posted by hunton.dl on 18th July 2022
  • Try sautéing the dry orzo in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes prior to pouring it into the tomato sauce....its a game changer

    Posted by Zena16 on 25th June 2022
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