Spicy baby calamari with orecchiette is one of the tastiest pasta dishes, and start to finish it takes twenty minutes to make!

Orecchiette with a Spicy Baby Calamari Sauce

When our now 31-year-old daughter was an infant we started spending our summers in Sperlonga at the seaside home of a delightful Italian family of contadini (farmers). Although already well into retirement age this couple still dedicated their days to their vegetable garden, lemon orchard, chickens and many plants on their property. Raffaele, now in his nineties, still does. Lina, who recently passed away, was an outstanding cook and I learned so much from her about food, Including this delicious recipe you can literally make in 20 minutes. This pasta dish has remained a favorite of my husband’s all these years and since it was his birthday the other day I made it for him, and decided to share it with you!
Calories 1735 kcal


  • 300 g orecchiette or gnocchi sardi
  • 200 g of cleaned baby calamari or cuttlefish
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • One peperoncino dried hot pepper, crumbled
  • One garlic clove peeled
  • 6 to 8 plump cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A handful of fresh parsley minced
Metric - U.S. Customary


  1. Rinse the calamari and spread them out on a plastic cutting sheet.
  2. If you can’t find baby calamari then use regular calamari, or cuttlefish.
  3. Place the calamari in the freezer while you begin preparing the rest of the sauce.
  4. Roughly chop or smash the garlic clove with the back of a knife.
  5. Sizzle the garlic clove and peperoncino in the olive oil for a minute, taking care not to burn the garlic clove.
  6. Add the tomatoes to the olive oil and cook until the tomatoes have softened, around five minutes.
  7. If the sauce dries out add a splash of water.
  8. While the sauce is cooking place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil.
  9. Remove the calamari from the freezer and chop into bite-size pieces. You’ll note that the brief time in the freezer makes the calamari much easier to chop.
  10. Add the calamari to the tomato sauce and cook until the calamari is tender, about 10 minutes.
  11. Add salt to taste.
  12. If the sauce begins to dry out add a splash of water to the pan as needed.
  13. In the meantime add the pasta to the cooking water and cook until al dente, or according to package instructions.
  14. While the pasta is cooking roughly chop the parsley.
  15. Drain the pasta and reserve about half a cup of cooking liquid.
  16. Toss the pasta in the sauce; if the sauce is too dry add a little cooking water by the tablespoonful.
  17. Spoon the pasta into serving dishes, sprinkle with some parsley and serve.
Nutrition Facts
Orecchiette with a Spicy Baby Calamari Sauce
Amount Per Serving (85 g)
Calories 1735 Calories from Fat 450
% Daily Value*
Fat 50g77%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 466mg155%
Sodium 1292mg56%
Potassium 1902mg54%
Carbohydrates 244g81%
Fiber 13g54%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 73g146%
Vitamin A 3365IU67%
Vitamin C 121.6mg147%
Calcium 166mg17%
Iron 7.3mg41%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.