I learned this about calamari when I made it for the first time this week: Raw tentacles creep me out. Here's how I got around it.

Editor’s Note: This is the 11th of Jennifer Mastroianni’s series of 50 dishes by her 50th birthday.

I learned this about calamari when I made it for the first time this week: Raw tentacles creep me out.

I had no problem handling the snow-white squid tubes, but those slippery, red-tinged, baby-octopus-looking clumps almost made me lose my appetite. Once I set them aside –– and later nuked them and fed them to my cat –– I was back to being hungry for the mild and sweet-tasting seafood.

Calamari is a popular restaurant dish, and it often is served lightly breaded and deep-fried. I like it that way, even the tentacles, but I also enjoy it sauteed to cut calories and better taste the flavor of the squid.

Making it at home was not only surprisingly simple, it was downright cheap compared with eating it out. I found a 1-pound bag of frozen Bay Prime calamari for $3.48.

The package has four servings of clean, ready-to-use tubes and tentacles. I made the recipe on the bag, which calls for cutting the tubes into thin rings, then sauteing the calamari in oil, butter, garlic and onions, and seasoning it with salt, pepper and fresh parsley.

It’s simple, but tastes great served over pasta. The key to good calamari is careful cooking. With this recipe, it takes just six to seven minutes over medium heat to get it right. Overcooking results in a not-so-enjoyable rubbery texture.

After your first introduction to the product, the sky is the limit. Calamari, which is low in calories and fat, can be baked, stir-fried and deep-fried, and it can be added to soups, salads and stews.