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Cucina Povera:
Tuscan Peasant Cooking

by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Totani Ripieni
Totani are members of the squid family that resemble common squid, or calamari, and are interchangeable with them in recipes. The small ones are very tender and quick to prepare. You can buy squid already cleaned, or clean them yourself (see the note at the end of the recipe). Here, they are stuffed with a simple filling that can be enhanced with minced clams or mussels and capers. These are delicious served over pasta.
Serves 4



    • 1 pound small totani or calamari, cleaned (see note), tentacles reserved
    • 6 slices dry or day-old country style bread, soaked in water and squeezed
    • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 1 large egg, beaten
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small onion, sliced
    • 2 cups tomato puree


Rinse the totani and pat dry

In a medium bowl, combine the bread, parsley, egg, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the mixture into the tubes of the totani and close them with a toothpick.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium- high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the stuffed totani and sear on both sides. Add the tomato and the reserved tentacles, and decrease the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1½ hours, or until tender, adding water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, and divide among shallow soup bowls. Serve at once.

To clean squid, gently twist the head (in the center of the squid) to remove it, taking care not to break the ink sac. Cut off and reserve the tentacles, removing the beak in the center. Remove the clear cartilage quill and discard. Rinse well inside and out.

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