Chefs' Recipes

Captain Moonlite's soffritto, southern calamari, saffron orzo and mint

A nostalgic dish by chef Matt Germanchis.

By Matt Germanchis
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 25 mins cooking
  • Serves 2 - 4
  • Print
"This dish reminds me of my time cooking on the Greek island of Skiathos in a little taverna," says Germanchis. "The fishermen would show me the day's catch for me to create the daily menu, and calamari was always a staple. In this dish, I've paired it with my mum's kritharaki (orzo) for the added nostalgia."


  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 250 gm orzo or risoni
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 50 gm butter
  • 6 mint leaves, finely chopped, plus extra leaves to serve
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 300 gm southern calamari, cleaned (see note), with wings attached
  • 25 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ celery stalk, finely chopped
  • ½ garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped


  • 1
    For soffritto, add oil to a small saucepan over medium heat, then add onion, celery, garlic, and bay leaf, and fry, stirring occasionally, until translucent (6-8 minutes). Add capsicum and stir occasionally until tender or it starts to catch on the bottom of pan (6-8 minutes). Repeat with tomato, stirring occasionally, until mixture resembles a stew (6-8 minutes). Keep warm.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion and bay leaf, and fry until soft (6-8 minutes). Add saffron and orzo, stir to coat orzo with oil, then add wine and stock, bring to a simmer and cook, with minimal stirring, until orzo is al dente (10 minutes). Stir well, add butter, mint and lemon juice, and season to taste.
  • 3
    Preheat a barbecue to high. Pat calamari dry and clean inside hood with paper towel. Brush with remaining oil, season to taste, then grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and cooked through (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and cut into 1cm-thick slices.
  • 4
    To serve, transfer orzo to a serving plate, top with calamari, spoon over soffritto and garnish with extra mint.


Ask your fishmonger to clean the calamari for you.
Wine suggestion by Gemma Gange: A dry rosé, such as 2018 Scion Rosé from Rutherglen, Vic.