Christmas 2013: Calamari Salad

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No real story here. This is a standby side for our holidays and a rather typical salad for an Italian Christmas or New Years Eve. It made its return as the seafood accompaniment to the meat-wrapped meat entree I prepared.

My father’s version is good, but it’s not quite as balanced as the version served at Asti Caffe and Trattoria in Syracuse, which this salad is patterned after.

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It’s worth discussing how the squid is cooked. The lemon is essential to the boiling water, as it kills the strong “fishy” flavor prevalent in squid. Be careful not to overcook, as the calamari goes from tender to rubber very quickly.

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Calamari Salad
By Jared Paventi

  • 2-3 lbs. calamari tubes and tentacles, partially frozen
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • four roasted red pepper hulls, quartered and chopped
  • two celery stalks, chopped
  • 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • small jar of capers, drained
  • handful of mint, chopped fine
  • handful of parsley, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved and pitted

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Slice the partially frozen calamari tubes into 1-inch pieces. Place in a colander with tentacles and rinse thoroughly.

Add lemon juice and water to a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Add the calamari and cook 90 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

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Combine calamari, red pepper, celery, olives, herbs and capers in a large mixing bowl and toss. In a separate bowl, whisk together garlic, oil and vinegar. Add dressing to the rest of the salad and toss thoroughly to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Before serving, squeeze half the lemon over the salad. Cut the remaining half into wedges, add to the salad and toss.

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