Geographically, Sicily is much closer to Tunisia, Morocco, and the Moorish world than it is to Milano, so the influences on traditional cooking are very Northern African. I love the way currants, caperberries, pine nuts, and chiles combine to create a sweet, hot and sour Arabic kiss on the delicate tentacles.
1 cup Israeli couscous
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons currants
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
¼ cup caper berries
2 cups basic tomato sauce (homemade or MB’s jarred pasta sauce)
1 ½ pounds cleaned calamari, tubes cut into ¼-inch rounds, tentacles halved
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Set up an ice bath nearby. Cook the couscous in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and immediately plunge it into the ice bath. Once cooled, remove and set aside to dry on a plate.
In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, heat the oil until just smoking. Add the pine nuts, currants, and red pepper flakes and saute until the nuts are just golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the caperberries, tomato sauce, and couscous and bring to a boil.
Add the calamari, stir to mix, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the calamari is just cooked and completely opaque.
Season with salt and pepper, pour into a large bowl, sprinkle with scallions, and serve immediately.