Calamari Fra Diavolo

Fra Diavolo...With Calamari

Calamari Fra Diavolo

What Is Calamari Fra Diavolo?

Calamari Fra Diavolo is a classic Italian-American dish that combines tender calamari (squid) with a spicy tomato-based sauce. The name “Fra Diavolo,” which translates to “Brother Devil” in Italian, refers to the fiery nature of the sauce, which is typically made with garlic, onions, red pepper flakes, and sometimes other spices to add heat.


This is popular in Italian-American cuisine and is known for its bold flavors and the perfect balance of spiciness and the natural, slightly sweet taste of the calamari. It’s a great choice for seafood lovers who enjoy a bit of heat in their meals.

Ingredients For Calamari Fra Diavolo


8 oz Cherry Tomato’s

1/2 Cup Basil

1/2 Cup Parsley

2 Shallots

3-4 Cloves of Garlic

1 Lemon


12 oz Pasta

28 oz Crushed Tomato’s

1/2 Cup Red Wine

2 Tbsp Tomato Paste

1/4 Cup Olive Oil


16 oz Calamari


1 Tbsp Oregano

1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Tsp Pepper

How To Make Calamari Fra Diavolo

Step 1

Prep Produce



Preparing the produce is a crucial first step in creating the flavorful base for your dish. This process involves finely chopping shallots, mincing garlic, preparing fresh herbs like parsley and basil, and getting your tomatoes and lemon ready.




  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 fresh parsley, finely chopped.
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped




  • Shallots: Begin by peeling the shallots. Slice off the ends and then cut them in half lengthwise. Make a series of small, parallel cuts across each half, followed by perpendicular cuts to create a fine dice. Shallots are preferred in this dish for their mild, slightly sweet flavor that complements the spicy sauce.


  • Garlic: Peel the cloves and slice them thinly. Then, use your knife to mince the slices finely. Garlic adds a depth of flavor that is essential to the dish, providing a robust base for the sauce.


  • Parsley and Basil: Rinse these herbs under cold water and pat them dry. Remove the parsley leaves from the stems and chop them finely. For the basil, stack the leaves, roll them tightly, and then slice them into thin strips (a technique known as chiffonade) before giving them a final chop. These herbs add a fresh, aromatic quality to the dish.


  • Lemon: Wash the lemon and cut it into wedges. The lemon will be used as a garnish to add a bright, acidic note to the finished dish, balancing the richness of the sauce and the seafood.

Step 2

Prep Calamari



To get the ideal texture for this dish, it’s important to correctly prepare the frozen calamari rings. This means thawing, boiling, straining, and blanching the bodies cut into rings.




  • 1 lb frozen calamari rings




  • Thawing: Begin by placing the frozen calamari rings in the refrigerator the day before cooking. This allows them to thaw gradually and safely.




  • Boiling: On the day of cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the thawed calamari rings and boil them for about 1-2 minutes. This step is crucial as it helps tenderize the calamari, ensuring it doesn’t become rubbery when added to the sauce.




  • Straining and Blanching: After boiling, quickly strain the calamari rings and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. This process, known as blanching, stops the cooking process and helps the calamari retain a tender texture.



Drying: Once the calamari rings have cooled in the ice bath for a minute, drain them and pat them dry with paper towels. It’s important to remove as much moisture as possible to ensure they sauté nicely in the sauce.


By following these steps, the calamari rings will be perfectly prepped for your dish, tender and ready to absorb the flavors of the spicy sauce.

Step 3

Make Sauce & Cook Pasta



Creating the perfect sauce is an essential step in making this dish. The process involves cooking shallots, garlic, and integrating tomato paste, seasonings, red wine, crushed tomatoes, and fresh herbs to create a rich, flavorful sauce.




  • Shallots, finely chopped
  • Minced garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes
  • Red wine
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh basil and parsley




Cooking Shallots: Start by heating oil or butter in a pan on medium high heat. Add the finely chopped shallots, cooking them until they become translucent and fragrant. This step is crucial as shallots form the flavor base of the sauce. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can simply use a yellow onion. In that case, just add the onion and sauté it.



  • Adding Garlic: Next, add the minced garlic to the pan and cook it with the shallots for a few minutes until it’s aromatic but not browned. Garlic adds a depth of flavor essential to the dish.



  • Integrating Tomato Paste: Stir in the tomato paste, allowing it to cook for a minute or two. This step enhances the sauce’s color and richness.



  • Seasoning: Add the seasonings – salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes. The blend of these spices contributes to the characteristic spiciness of the dish.



  • Pouring in Red Wine: Deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. The wine adds complexity and depth to the sauce.




  • Adding Crushed Tomatoes: Now, add the crushed tomatoes. Let the sauce simmer, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully.





  • Incorporating Fresh Herbs: Finally, stir in the chopped fresh basil and parsley. These fresh herbs bring a burst of freshness to the sauce and beautifully tie all the flavors together.




Boiling pasta is a fundamental step in many Italian dishes, including as a base for your dish. The key to perfect pasta is cooking it to the right level of ‘al dente’ – tender but still firm to the bite.



  • Your choice of pasta (like spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine)
  • Salt
  • Water



  • Boiling Pasta: Begin by filling a large pot with water and bringing it to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt to the water. The salt enhances the pasta’s flavor and increases the boiling temperature of the water, helping the pasta cook evenly.


  • Adding Pasta: Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together. The amount of time you boil the pasta will depend on the type you’re using and your desired level of firmness. Generally, following the package instructions is a good guide.


  • Checking for Al Dente: To check if the pasta is cooked al dente, taste a strand or piece about a minute before the package suggests it should be done. It should be cooked through but still firm to the bite. Be sure to leave some pasta water for later!



  • Straining Pasta: Once the pasta is al dente, turn off the heat and strain the pasta using a colander. Be careful with the steam as you pour.


By boiling and straining the pasta correctly, you ensure it maintains the ideal texture to complement the rich, spicy tomato sauce of your dish.

Step 4




The last step in the recipe is to mix the sauce, calamari, pasta, and fresh herbs together. This creates a dish that is both flavorful and well-balanced.




  • Add The Calamari and Cherry Tomatoes: Start by adding the prepped calamari rings and cherry tomatoes to the simmering sauce. Let them simmer together for about 2-3 minutes. This short cooking time is crucial to ensure the calamari finishes cooking without becoming rubbery. The cherry tomatoes will soften slightly, adding a fresh burst of flavor to the dish.




  • Incorporating Pasta: Next, put the strained pasta into the sauce. Mix it carefully with the sauce and calamari, making sure the pasta gets fully coated. This helps the pasta soak up the sauce’s flavors, bringing the dish together.




  • Finishing Touches: Add some fresh lemon juice and, if needed, a little pasta water. The lemon juice makes the sauce taste fresh and balances its richness. The pasta water makes the sauce smooth and helps it stick to the pasta.


  • Adding Fresh Herbs: Lastly, top the dish with more fresh basil and parsley. These herbs add a fresh, fragrant touch that is important in Italian dishes


By mixing these ingredients well, you make sure every bite includes calamari, rich sauce, well-cooked pasta, and fresh lemon and herbs. This last step combines all the tastes and textures, making a dish that looks and tastes great.

Step 5

Enjoy Your Calamari Fra Diavolo!


Calamari Fra Diavolo



The final step is all about presentation and savoring the flavors of this classic Italian-American dish.




  • Plating: Carefully ladle the dish onto serving plates or into a large serving dish. Ensure that each plate gets an equal portion of the calamari, cherry tomatoes, and pasta, all smothered in the rich, spicy sauce.


  • Garnishing: Sprinkle a generous amount of freshly chopped parsley over the top of the dish. This not only adds a fresh, herbaceous flavor but also gives a vibrant color contrast against the red sauce, enhancing the visual appeal.


  • Adding Cheese: For an extra touch of flavor, finish with a light grating of fresh Parmesan cheese over each serving. The nutty, salty taste of Parmesan complements the spiciness of the dish and adds a layer of richness.


  • Serving: Serve the dish immediately while it’s hot and the flavors are at their peak. Offer additional lemon wedges on the side for guests who might enjoy a little extra zing of citrus.


  • Pairing: This dish pairs beautifully with a light, crisp white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. The wine’s acidity and freshness are a perfect match for the richness and spiciness of the dish.



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