Rhode Island Style Fried Calamari (Paleo)

Just when you thought you would have to give up your favorite Italian foods Mangia Paleo has your back!

paleo-fried-food-italian-gluten-freeLiving in New England means there is easy access to great quality local seafood. There’s also a high population of Italian families. In fact, the street I live on is decked out in Italian flags. Even the yellow double line in the road has been transformed into green, white, and red. Not kidding. So it’s only fitting for every Italian restaurant in my vicinity to offer fried calamari on their menu. Italian-America seafood at its best.

Sometimes it is served with rings of fried cherry peppers mixed in. This version is called “Rhode Island- Style”.

italian-paleo-recipes-clamari-cherry-peppersWhile most restaurants or home cooks fry their calamari in processed oils like vegetable or canola oil I’ve got something BETTER for you. I had the opportunity to try tallow by the ever-so-amazing company, Fatworks. They are the “Fattitude Adjusters”. Fat is healthy. Fat is fuel. And what is the most paleo fat you could possibly thing of? Animal fat, of course! Change your fattitude about fat with my calamari recipe. It adds a ton of flavor to your savory dishes without overpowering it with beef fat taste. 😉 Fatworks tallow, duck fat, and lard are an incredible option for frying due to their high heat tolerance. I am unaware of any other company who sells grass-fed rendered animal cooking fat available for the average home cook/consumer. Frankly, I don’t need to know. I suggest picking up a jar for yourself because if you’ve ever tried to make your own lard you know what I’m talking about. The process is messy, time consuming, and stinky!

Thank the lard for Fatworks.

fatworks-recipes-fried-calamari-paleoThis recipe looks complicated in the photos. Trust me, I don’t have time for complicated meals. Once all your food is prepped the calamari takes just seconds to fry. You’ll be hooked on this paleo Italian appetizer. In fact, you might even turn it into a meal like I did. Serves 4? HAH. Yeah right. Nom nom nom!

rhode-island-style-calamari-gluten-freeDon’t you just HATE that fried food smell in your house? I never fry because of it. Well, if you’re worried that will happen FEAR NOT! Cooking with the right fat can make your house smell just like a good restaurant. It’s the cheap veggie oil and canola oil that smells gross when you fry in it. Think fast food. YUCK. That won’t happen here.


  • 1 lb whole squid (about 7-8 pieces)
  • 1/2 cup Fatworks grass-fed tallow
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 4-5 hot cherry peppers (green & red)
  • 2 tsp Flavorgod lemon garlic seasoning OR 1/2 tsp garlic powder & 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (dried parsley, basil, oregano blend)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 lemon wedges



If your squid is not already cleaned, be sure to clean your squid. Typically this is already done for you if you are buying at the seafood counter. I also remove the little wings toward the end of the squid. Just slice a bit and pull them off. Now you have just the tube and the tentacles connected.

  1. Cut the squid before the hot peppers. That way, your squid AND peppers aren’t spicy. Just the peppers, the way it should be. Slice off the tentacles, but leave it whole so it looks like a mini octopus. Cut the squid into 3/4 inch rings. It will shrink to about 1/2 inch or so during cooking. Set aside.
  2. Slice the cherry peppers into rings. I knock the seeds and membrane out which minimizes the heat. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the egg with 1 tbsp water. Set aside.
  4. In a large flat plate combine almond flour, coconut flour, and seasonings. Salt is very important in this recipe. Set aside.
  5. On a stove-top pan heat 1/2 the amount of tallow on medium-high heat. Meanwhile, it’s time to dip the sliced peppers and squid in the egg wash. This is actually option, depending on how much you like coating on your squid. After a quick dip, coat in the flour mixture. a light coating will do. Vigorously shake off the extra flour before adding to the hot tallow. Test ONE pepper or squid. This will help you judge whether or not the fat is too hot.
  6. Fry the calamari first. Drain and filter the fat, then add the second half of the fat and fry the remaining peppers.
  7. Salt the food immediately after frying. Set it on a paper towel to soak up unnecessary fat.
  8. Right before serving squeeze a few wedges of lemon onto the fried magical goodness. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

Serves 3-4 as an appetizer.paleo-gluten-free-italian-calamari-recipe

NOTE #1: I do not add all the peppers and calamari at once. I do the calamari first in about 2-3 batches and then the peppers in another batch. During this process, the flour may be left behind. You may drain/filter the oil after the second or third batch is it begins to darken with too much flour. You may risk burning the flour and jeopardizing the taste if you keep using the same oil in the pan.

NOTE #2: Salt is really important when you cook. Especially with seafood. And even more especially with fried food. Salt doesn’t make the food salty, it simply enhances flavor. Remember to sprinkle salt as soon as you take it out of the pan.



What do you think?

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