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Parsley, Squid and Cannellini Bean Stew

The slight hint of fennel seeds is my favourite part of this dish – one of the best pairings in Italian food is aniseed with seafood. You must get fresh squid. I really appreciate the cooking method here where the sauce and beans are cooked and heated separately - this allows the squid to be cooked fast at a hot temperature which ensures the squid remains tender and fresh, and the dish shines. A great meal in summer when you feel like something a little hearty, or can be spread out amongst a crowd as part of a tapas spread.

"Many thanks to those wicked women at the River Café in London, init.."– Iain Dawson.

Pictured: Parsley, Squid and Cannellini Bean Stew

1.5kg squid, the smallest you can find, baby occy (i.e. octopus) is excellent too
Extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
5 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
600g tinned peeled tomatoes, drained of half their juice
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g dried cannellini beans, cooked (or just do a can, who are you trying to kid...... i.e. 2 x 400g cans, drained and rinsed)
2 dried chillies, crumbled
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
80ml white wine
3 large fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped, marinated in extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons

Clean squid, and remove beak and the soft blade from inside.
If they are super tiny, keep them whole (same for baby occy*). If they are bigger, slice the bodies and their legs in half or more (yeah!).
Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and add half the garlic. Allow it to colour, then add the tomatoes and 2 tsp of salt. Reduce over a moderate heat for 30 minutes until you have a thick sauce. Stir occasionally.

Heat the beans in their liquor (add some stock if they are canned, i.e. 1 cup).

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large thick bottomed frying pan, and add the remaining garlic, dried chilli and fennel seeds. Cook until the garlic begins to brown then add the squid, salt and pepper. Fry to colour the squid then add half the parsley, the wine and the tomato sauce. Finally add the hot beans and the remainder of the parsley.
Test for seasoning.

Serve with fresh chilli and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over a wedge of lemon and some crusty bread.

Serves 6

Pictured: Fresh Squid