The Cottage Smallholder

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How to cook the perfect baby squid recipe

Photo: Early evening sky

Photo: Early evening sky

Buying squid in the UK usually means pointing to a pile of tentacles, each with a baby squid inside. As these arrive frozen they are often sold off very cheap at the end of the day. Danny has always been squid master at the cottage.

To be quite frank cooking squid seemed to be a bit of a palaver. Grilled (broiled) or fried they needed 20/20 attention. So if I was cooking, I always avoided a squid bargain.

A few weeks ago I was shipping with my mum in Waitrose, Cambridge on a Saturday. It was like shopping on a Sunday in Newmarket. Loads of fish and seafood were half price. So I bought some squid, prawns and scallops for a seafood spaghetti.

Why had I suddenly become confident about cooking squid? I’d discovered the perfect recipe in Mary Contini’s brilliant book Dear Francesca. This book is a real gem – packed with recipes and stories it reads like a novel and the calm tone of the writing would encourage even the most jittery of cooks to try something new.

Perfect baby squid recipe (from Dear Francesca)


  1. 500g of squid (washed well in cold water)
  2. 1 litre of cold water
  3. Good squeeze of fresh lemon juice


  1. Cut the tentacles into rings (leaving the tiny squid whole).
  2. Place the squid into a saucepan containing a litre of cold water.
  3. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice.
  4. Over a medium heat bring the water to the boil and remove immediately from the heat as the squid will now be cooked. Drain the squid and cover with cold water a couple of times.

The squid can be added to hot spaghetti and will heat through in seconds. They can also be served as a cold salad with lots of lemon juice, garlic and pepper.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jane

    Yes, I adore pasta seafood dishes. Made a great one with prawns, scallops and squid recently.

    Great that you are getting the book, it’s a real winner.

    Hello Veronica

    It works perfectly every time.

    Hi Kate (uk)

    Loverlee tentacles. Yum.

    Hi Sally

    Yes it’s a brilliant book. I have it beside my bed – great for soothing sleepless nights.

  2. Sally Wallace

    I heard extracts from Dear Francesca on the radio a couple of years ago and bought it forthwith.
    Comfort eating and comfort reading.

  3. kate (uk)

    oooh nooo…tentacles…….

  4. Veronica

    Goodness, that sounds amazingly simple — never heard of cooking squid that way. I must try it!

  5. Sounds delicious especially the recommendation of adding the squid to hot spaghetti!
    There is no comparison to a good seafood and pasta dish especially with linguine etc
    Thank you for the book title also, just ordered myself a copy from green metropolis. I’m not a confident cook and prefer savoury dishes to sweet (can’t bake to save my life!)so this simple dish is right up my street

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