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Signature Dishes: Stuffed Calamari from Ryan Johnston’s Prepkitchen

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Earlier today on air on Peter Greenberg Worldwide, Chef Ryan Johnston showcased one of his signature dishes for fall.

What’s a signature dish?  It’s a meal worth traveling for and one that you want to return to. Each week we’ll spotlight a different signature dish from the chefs that Peter meets on his travels.

Peter’s most recent book, The Best Places for Everything–-available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indybound and your local bookstore– has a whole chapter of his  favorites from all around the world.

Ryan Johnston, who is the executive chef at Whisknladle and Prepkitchen, relies on the markets of San Diego for his farm-to-table cuisine. This fall his signature dish is stuffed braised calamari and here’s how you can make it too.

Stuffed Braised Calamari
Serves 4

For the puttanesca:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
22 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1.5 oz gaeta olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 small bunch parsley, leaves picked and chopped
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. capers

For the bread crumb salsa:
2 c. ciabatta, crust removed and cut in 1/2 in. cubes
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. tarragon, chopped
1/2 tbsp. capers, chopped
1 tbsp, red onion, finely diced
1/2 tbsp. fresno chile, seeds removed & finely diced

For the Calamari:
1 lb. cleaned calamari, tubes only
1 lb. cottechino sausage or other italian sausage

1. Prepare the Puttanesca
Over medium-low heat, slowly cook the chopped garlic in extra virgin olive
oil until soft and translucent. Then, add the red pepper flakes, chopped
olives, tomatoes, parsley and capers. Gently simmer over medium-low heat for
45 mins. Finally, pour the sauce into a food processor and pulse for 5 to 10

2. Prepare the Bread Crumb Salsa
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Toss the bread and olive oil together
until all pieces are coated. Then, place the bread on a baking sheet and bake
in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until golden. The tray may need to be
rotated half-way through to ensure the bread is browned evenly. Remove from
oven and allow to cool. Coarsely grind the toasted bread in a food processor and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients and set aside.

3. Prepare the Calamari.
Rinse and dry the calamari tubes and turn them inside-out. Place the cottechino sausage in a piping bag and comfortably fill each tube, being sure not to over stuff.

In a hot pan, sear the stuffed calamari until golden brown on all sides. Remove from heat, place in a shallow dish and cover with the prepared puttanesca sauce and bake for 10 to 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

When ready to plate, mix the breadcrumbs and chopped fresh ingredients together and garnish.

By Ryan Johnston for Peter Greenberg Worldwide