Calamaretti in Zimino Con Polenta alla Griglia
Grilled polenta triangles are the base for the topping of spinach and spicy baby calamari. Calamari may be purchased frozen but it is infinitely better fresh. Buy calamari that has been cleaned, but make sure the purplish skin is pulled off and discarded. Check to see that the quill (a small, thick, plastic-like blade) is removed from the body. Rinse the squid under cold water to remove any sand, and pat dry. If your guests are squeamish about tentacles, chop them finely and add to the pan. Squid should have a sweet, mild flavor and no fishy smell. It is high in protein, extremely low in fat, and inexpensive.
- Water - 3 quarts
- Sea Salt - 3 tablespoons
- Polenta - 2-2/3 cups (1 pound) (a coarse-ground cornmeal)
- Butter - 6 tablespoons
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons
- Garlic Cloves - 2, minced
- Baby Squid - 6 ounces, cleaned
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
- Dry white wine - 1/3 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Spinach leaves - 4 to 5
To make the polenta: Bring the water to a boil in a very large saucepan. Add the salt. Pour in the polenta, stirring continuously with a whisk. Reduce heat to low and cook about 45 minutes. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the butter. With the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, grease a jelly-roll pan and pour in the polenta while it is still very hot; let cool completely. When cold, cut the polenta in triangles and grill it over medium-hot coals until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes.
To cook the calamaretti: In a medium saute pan or skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic until golden. Remove the garlic from the pan. Season the squid with the salt, black pepper and red pepper, and saute it on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes, until crisp. Add the wine and cook until the wine has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter and mix it in. In another medium saute pan or skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and stir in the spinach leaves until wilted, about 5 minutes.
To serve: Place 1 triangle of polenta on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with an equal amount of wilted spinach and the baby calamari.