The authentic flavors of this Calamarata Pasta will transport you straight to southern Italy!
Fresh calamari that’s cooked long and slow in tomato sauce and garlic is combined with al dente pasta shaped to resemble calamari rings. This traditional Italian dish will have everyone begging for more!
The name of this recipe is Calamarata Pasta but it’s also the name of the pasta shape. Rings of pasta that look similar to calamari rings are perfect for this dish which is a Neapolitan favorite. It definitely makes a difference to use the correct pasta for the sauce. Just look at my recipes for spaghetti alla nerano, pasta and peas and pasta al forno which use a particular pasta.
Pasta Calamarata also known as pasta calamari, is a dish that tastes much more complicated than it actually is! Gentle simmering results in melt-in-your-mouth calamari. Plus the rich tomato sauce is infused with garlic and herbs and develops an amazing flavor that deepens and intensifies over time.
Table of Contents
Why you love this recipe
- Texture fun - you’ll be delighted with the calamari shaped pasta that perfectly compliments the calamari itself. Each mouthful is a surprise and a treat!
- Flavor - the combination of the mild, briny flavor of calamari with hearty tomato sauce, garlic and parsley is ideal and excellent with pasta.
- Simplicity - while the flavors are complex and enticing, the recipe itself is straightforward, allowing you to enjoy a satisfying meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
- Versatility - Calamarata Pasta makes a tasty first course or as it’s known in Italian a “primo”. But it can also be a filling main course when served with delicious ciabatta garlic bread or other sides. Or make it part of a pasta feast along with a selection of any of my Italian pasta recipes.
- Italian Classic - be part of the Italian food culture when you make and eat this traditional Italian recipe which originated in Campania. It has become a beloved dish throughout Italy and is prepared most often in summer.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
- Calmarata pasta - this pasta is definitely the first hero of this recipe. Calamarata pasta is thick rings of pasta and looks very similar to calamari rings. Look for this pasta at specialty food stores or order online.
- Calamari - squid or calamari are the second hero of this recipe. Seek good quality seafood from your local fishmonger. If you can find fresh, that’s great. However, frozen calamari is also fine as long as you have confidence in your fishmonger. Either way, buy whole calamar which is preferably local. You can clean them yourself or ask you fishmonger to do it for you. Please don’t buy frozen calamari rings for this recipe. These have very little flavor and unnecessary additives.
- Extra virgin olive oil - good quality oil will give you the best flavor. You could use regular olive oil, just be sure that it’s fresh and robust in flavor.
- Garlic - fresh, pungent garlic lends a wonderful aroma to this calamarata pasta sauce. If you can, choose local produce. Your supermarket should have everything well labelled.
- Red pepper flakes - or chili pepper flakes which are available at all supermarkets. Fresh chopped, hot red peppers can also be used. Adjust the amount according to your preference.
- White wine - choose a dry wine like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. If you don’t drink white wine, small bottles can usually be purchase from liquor stores.
- Tomato puree or passata - thick, premium tomato puree is what you’re looking for. I usually choose an Italian brand like Mutti. However use whichever is your favorite.
- Parsley - fresh parsley is required for this pasta recipe. It’s easily available at supermarkets. Dried parsley isn’t a suitable substitute.
See recipe card for quantities.
Have your fishmonger clean the calamari. They will do it so quickly and save you all the mess.
Slice the calamari in thick rings. Cut the wings into strips and leave tentacles whole.
In a cold frying pan put olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes heat until the garlic is fragrant.
Add cleaned and chopped squid.
Add wine, tomato puree, parsley and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving a little pasta water.
Combine the pasta with the cooked calamari sauce adding a pasta water if needed.
Pile the pasta calamari into a serving dish then sprinkle with extra parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
Hint: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Parmesan cheese) is never added to seafood pasta. Don't be tempted as it really isn't the right combination.
- Calamarata pasta - if you can’t find this pasta, use rigatoni, paccheri or linguini. Technically, this dish wouldn’t be called calamarata pasta but don’t tell anyone and I won’t either! For a gluten free variation, use your favorite gluten free pasta.
- White wine - use water or fish stock instead. The flavor will be different but it will still be good.
- Parsley - fresh basil can be used instead.
- Red pepper flakes - use lots of freshly ground black pepper instead.
- Cherry tomato sauce - instead of tomato puree or passata, substitute with 1 pound or 500 grams of halved cherry tomatoes and a spoonful of tomato paste.
- Seafood - included extra seafood like shrimp, prawns and crab for an indulgent treat.
- Kid friendly - omit the red pepper flakes if you’re serving to children. Most children don’t like spicy food.
You’ll need regular kitchen equipment like measuring cups and spoons, knives, chopping boards, pots and pans. I also like to use a sieve to drain the calamari to ensure the seafood is as dry as possible.
Calamarata pasta is best served immediately. However, if you do have leftovers, store in an airtight container in the fridge for a day. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a spoonful or two of water then gently reheat in a pan over low-medium heat.
This dish isn’t suitable to freeze.
Ask your fishmonger to clean the calamari for you. You’ll need to buy about 2 pounds (1 kilogram) for this recipe which when cleaned will be the right amount. If you’re keen, clean the calamari yourself. It’s not difficult.
Start the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a cold pan. This will draw out more flavor without risking burning the garlic and red pepper flakes. Pay attention though, both can burn quickly.
Reserve some pasta water to add to the sauce if necessary. The pasta water will have starch in it which helps bind the pasta and the sauce.
Calamarata pasta is available in specialty food stores or online. Look out for it and buy a couple of packets when you see it. It’s a purchase you won’t regret.
Yes and no. Calamari is Italian for squid. However, technically calamari are a type of squid which are smaller and more tender than the larger squid.
Calamari should be cooked either super fast or long and slow. In the case of this Calamarata Pasta, the calamari simmer gently until tender. Whereas if you were to make calamari fritti, you should cook the calamari for just a minute or two.
Calamarata Pasta is such a versatile recipe that you want to make it for the family on Friday night and follow it up with bowls of vanilla ice cream with blueberry compote. It’s also an excellent first course when you’re entertaining and compliments many delicious main dishes like Italian baked chicken thighs or beef spiedini. Whichever way you choose to serve this seafood pasta, you’re bound to receive rave reviews!
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Calamarata Pasta Recipe
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced or finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
- 1 ½ pounds cleaned fresh calamari (700 grams) See note 1
- ½ cup white wine 120mls
- 3 cups tomato puree or passata 700mls
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 pound calmarata pasta 500 grams See note 2
- Extra chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil to serve
- Slice the calamari in thick rings similar to the pasta size. Cut the wings into strips and cut any long tenticles into shorter lengths. Use paper towel to dab quickly to remove excess moisture. Set aside until needed.
- In a cold frying pan put olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Then set the pan over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add cleaned and chopped squid to the pan. Stir until the squid becomes white. This will only take a minute or two.
- Pour in the wine and bring to a boil.
- Stir in the tomato passata, parsley and salt. Bring the sauce back to a simmer.
- Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 30 minutes or so over low heat. Stirring regularly. You may need to adjust the heat to maintain a simmer.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil, add calamarata pasta and cook until al dente, then drain. Reserve a cup of the pasta water.
- Stir the pasta into the sauce. Add a little of the pasta water if needed and stir well.
- Serve with extra parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Never sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on seafood pasta - it won’t be good.
- You'll need about 2 pounds (1kg) of whole calamari for this recipe. Once cleaned it will be the correct amount.
- Calamarata pasta is pasta shaped to resemble calamari rings and is available at speciality food stores or online. Substitute liguine or rigatoni.
- Ask your fishmonger to clean the calamari for you.
- Start the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a cold pan.
- Take care not to burn the garlic and red pepper flakes.
- Add a little of the pasta water if necessary to thin the sauce.
Nutritional Estimate Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw calamari
- Wash hands after touching raw calamari
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove