When done right, calamari can be a seductive, tender, delicately ocean-flavored vehicle for bright, pungent, spicy, and otherwise bold flavors. For example, I love the Thai-style calamari salad with fish sauce, lime, cilantro, chilis, and garlic in Paul Johnson’s Fish Forever.
One recent night though, I had a craving for traditional southern Italian (or American) antipasti flavors in a calamari salad. It was easy enough to make up on the fly. The hardest part is cleaning it. Instructions here. The important thing is not to overcook it. Literally a 60 second dunk in boiling water does the trick.
This recipe makes enough for a side dish or appetizer for two
3/4 pound calamari
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon capers
About 1/4 cup chopped olives of your choice
1/4 bulb of fennel, sliced thinly
1 green garlic or 1 small clove of mature garlic, chopped finely
About 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, or halved cherry tomatoes (if not in season, use equivalent of canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
A pinch of pepper flakes
Salt to taste (if needed)
Clean the squid using the instructions here. Make sure to rinse well.
In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Set aside.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Add the cleaned calamari. As soon as the water returns to a boil, turn it off and cover it for one minute. Drain and rinse calamari in cool water. Shake off excess water and add to the bowl with the dressing.
Stir well and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or up to one hour before serving. May be refrigerated and brought to room temperature before serving. Taste and adjust for salt.