When my sister Claudia was born I was nine. I’ve always wanted a little sister. Since kindergarten I would tell my teachers and my classmates that I was going to have a sister soon, I desired her so much. Obviously it was not true, it was just due to the powerful imagination of a little girl, but I don’t even remember my lies! When it happened, they did not believe me any more.
Mum told me I was going to be an elder sister in a cold and windy day like this. I was squeezed in the bed in between my mum and my dad, the whole family infected by a seasonal flu. I could finally turn every dream in reality, have a younger sister and play with her. We would have been friends forever.
I remember very well the day when mum went on maternity leave from work: I would see her every day in the late afternoon, when she would come back from work, but that day she picked me up at the school bus and surprised me with a seafood lunch, as she had bought fresh fish in the morning at the market. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with my little sister.
I do not know if it is true or my imagination has worked on that lunch, but I’m pretty sure that mum cooked stuffed squids…
Stuffed squids with bread and pine nuts
Choose the smallest squids and stuff them patiently with a few simple ingredients: stale bread soaked in milk, parsley, stir-fried tentacles and a handful of pine nuts to give flavour and a different texture.
The sea taste is persistent, softened by bread and milk. Pine nuts add a surprising resinous taste: everything comes together to remind you the balsamic air of a maritime pine forest, a lunches by the sea in the shade of hundred year old trees.
- 500 g of squids
- 160 g of bread crumbs
- 200 ml of whole milk
- 1 bunch parsley finely chopped
- 40 g of pine nuts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 glass of white wine
Clean the squids and skin them. Keep the squids aside and finely chop the tentacles.
Cook the chopped tentacles in a pan with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes, as to soften them and reduce the cooking liquid.
Soak the bread in milk, squeeze it in a bowl and add the sautéed tentacles, the chopped parsley, one tablespoon of olive oil and the pine nuts. Season with salt.
Fill the squids with the stuffing and pierce them through with a toothpick to prevent the stuffing from coming out.
Pour a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan, add a clove of garlic and cook the squids on all sides for about 5 minutes.
Pour a glass of white wine in the pan and cook the squid for 10 minutes, or until tender.
Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Pine nuts are a precious gift of nature. A sprinkle of pine nuts can give a sophisticated touch to every dish and, on my book, a gentle hue of childhood memories.
Pine nuts used to be the trophy of many carefree afternoons spent with my granddad Remigio in San Gimignano, collecting them underneath the huge pine trees in the main town park. My hands, my clothes and my whole face would turn black as in a chimney sweeper, that was part of the fun. The day would end in my granddad’s doorway, sitting on a tiny stool with an even tinier hammer to open each pine nut. The result of my afternoon quest was an almost empty paper bag, as I would eat most of the pine nuts, fascinated by their resin-y after taste.
Here a few recipes you can make with a bag of pine nuts, if you manage to save some:
- Almond paste cookies covered with pine nuts, a Tuscan classic you can find in many bakeries and pastry shops.
- Tuscan pine nut cake, and brace yourself, it might be one of my favourite sweet treats, a soft and creamy filling and a sprinkling of pine nuts on the golden surface.
- Castagnaccio, a chestnut cake with just with chestnut flour, water, olive oil, raisins and pine nuts. naturally gluten free and vegan, it’s a classic Tuscan dessert. Enjoy it in summer with a good scoop of pine nut ice cream.
- Use some of your pine nuts to decorate a honey and lemon pannacotta.