Pasta with Squid (Conchiglie alla Pappagano)

Yet another simple and delicious seafood pasta dish from Biba Caggiano that only takes as long as it takes to cook the pasta: pasta shells with calamari, tomatoes, anchovies, and chile pepper flakes. This is best with fresh squid, but frozen squid will work too. The most important is not to overcook the squid, as that would make it rubbery. The addition of a bit of butter and cream takes the ‘edge’ off the tomato sauce, and makes it work better with the squid.


For 2 servings

150 grams (1/3 lb) pasta shells, conchiglie

225 grams (1/2 lb) calamari / squid

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 anchovy fillets, minced, or 10 cm (4″) anchovy paste from a tube

1 can (400 grams/14 oz) peeled tomatoes, pureed in the food processor

salt to taste

chile pepper flakes to taste

1/2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp heavy cream


Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovies and stir for a minute. Do not let the garlic color.

Add the tomatoes…

…stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the tomato sauce to cook gently. Season with salt and chile pepper flakes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, add the pasta and salt. Cook al dente according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, cut the squid into large rings.

Fresh squid has more flavor, but it will be more work to clean it first.

The tomato sauce is done when it no longer ‘leaks’ water when you stir a ‘hole’ in it.

Add the cream and the butter, stir, and allow to cook for another minute or so.

Add the calamari to the sauce and stir. If you timed everything perfectly the pasta should now be cooked. If not, turn off the heat and only turn it back on to low heat when the pasta is cooked.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.

Toss until the pasta is coated with the sauce.

Serve on warm plates.

Wine pairing

This will work with many dry Italian white wines. I like greco di tufo or fiano di avellino with this.


One of my signature dishes: Rosa di Parma. Fillet of beef stuffed with prosciutto, parmigiano, garlic, and rosemary. Very tender, loaded with flavor, and great with sauteed spinach and a nice Barolo. I’ve cooked this for dinner guests for years and years, and the only change I’ve made over the years is that now sometimes I cook it sous-vide. But the oven works fine, too.


17 thoughts on “Pasta with Squid (Conchiglie alla Pappagano)

  1. Looks good, I never tried squid it looks like it would have a rubbery texture? Oh, I have a duck thawing in the fridge for the recipe you emailed me, I’m excited to try it! 🙂


    1. Squid needs to be cooked either a couple of minutes or a couple of hours. Anything in between, and it will be rubbery.

      Let me know how the duck turns out!


      1. Good to know! Duck is in the oven now.. It is done, I just need to keep it warm till my husband gets home from work. I snuck a piece of it and it is amazing! The skin is so crispy! I think duck is going to be on the menu a lot more! Thanks for the recipe 🙂


  2. Sorry to sound like a greedy baby, but oh yum!!!! Now this is entirely ‘my’ kind of soulfood as I could not see myself tired of squid, cuttlefish or octopus ever 🙂 ! And my Friday delivery had conchiglie from a very good firm enclosed! Now to get the squid!! And I would not have thought of anchovies . . .


    1. Anchovies are often added in small quantities in Italian recipes as a source for umami flavors. You should not actually be able to taste them, they just provide depth.


  3. I love squid as well. I cooked some with Mimi last week and she loved it. I made it with my “Americaine” sauce recipe which includes cognac and white wine. It all has to cook for hours though. Calamari is one minute or two hours. Nothing in between:-) yours looks perfect.


  4. Sounds very good to me, Stefan. Good advice, too, about over-cooking the calamari. No one wants a dish of rubber bands. Zia speaks of a sauce made with calamari but we’ve yet to try to make it together. Seeing that gorgeous dish that you’ve created reminds me to speak to her about it again. I’m her “calamari supplier” so maybe this time I can extract a recipe as payment. 🙂


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