Tuscan cuisine is a type of Italian cuisine that we don’t often make at home. While we love classics like ribolitta, we’ve always been partial to Southern Italian food. Inspired by two amazing meals at Cibreo, one of our favorite restaurants in Italy, we started exploring some Tuscan classics.
Given the choice between meat and fish, we’ll choose fish most of the time, so when we found a classic recipe for slow-cooked calamari and Swiss chard in a spicy tomato broth, we had to give it a try. The base of this dish is soffritto, a slow cooked mixture of minced onion, carrot, and celery.
To make the soffritto, you’ll need to mince the vegetables as finely as possible. There is disagreement on whether to use a food processor, but it’s definitely the easiest way to get the soffritto as fine and uniform as possible. We’ve compared the same dish made with food processor soffritto and hand-diced soffritto and the end result tastes the same. If you want to practice your knife skills and make the soffritto by hand, dice the onion, carrot, and celery as finely as possible first, then chop through the mixture until it is very fine.
The second secret to soffritto is to cook the minced vegetables over medium heat, stirring very frequently, until they are a rich golden brown and very soft. This can take up to 15 minutes. To save time, we suggest making a large batch of soffritto then dividing it up into ziplock bags to store in the freezer.
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- ½ poundcrushed tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Pinch of ground red chili pepper
- 2 pounds squid, cleaned and cut in rings
- 1 pound Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into 1" strips
- 1 pound spinach, rinsed
- ⅔ cup dry red wine
- Tuscan-style bread, for serving
- Mince the onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor. The mixture should be very fine.
- In a large saute pan or braiser, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the minced vegetables, then cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is very soft and a deep golden brown, then add the crushed tomatoes. Season lightly with salt.
- Add the spinach, chard, squid, and wine to the tomato sauce, cover, and cook 5 minutes, or until the spinach and chard have wilted.
- Once the spinach and chard are wilted, reduce the heat to very low, uncover, and allow the squid to slowly simmer in the sauce for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, season to taste and serve.
- Serve with crusty Italian bread.