Calamari Salad with Celery, Fennel & Capers

I have been promising myself I will cook with squid more often for about a year now, and I’ve finally gotten around to it. For some reason it’s so easy to overlook these little guys at the seafood counter, but they really are a lot more exciting than they seem at first glance. They are also incredibly easy to cook, the main potential issue being overcooking, as with so many things seafood.

For this dish the calamari simply require slicing and a few minutes of steaming before being tossed with the crispy vegetables and lemony dressing. Squid also marinate and grill up very nicely, also in just minutes, and of course they can be breaded and pan-fried in their ubiquitous restaurant fashion. My next squid recipe for the blog is going to be a stuffed-and-braised number, which I am really looking forward to.

This salad makes a great light meal for two or the perfect side dish to a more rich dinner of roasted meat, a boldly sauced pasta, or the like.

Calamari Salad with Celery, Fennel & Capers

Calamari Salad with Celery & Fennel:
*serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side*

⅓ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 anchovy
a pinch of chili flakes
½ tsp. coarse salt
⅓ C. olive oil
½ a fennel bulb, very thinly sliced (about 1 C. sliced)
2 stalks celery, very thinly sliced (about 1 C. sliced)
1 Tbsp. salt packed capers, rinsed
about 2 Tbsp. chopped chives
about 2 Tbsp. roughly chopped Italian parsley
¾ # calamari tubes, sliced into ½” rings
another pinch of chili flakes for garnish, if desired

Prepare the dressing by combining the lemon juice, anchovy, chili flakes, salt, and olive oil in a blender or jar and shaking vigorously or pureeing to combine. Set aside.

Thinly slice the fennel and celery using a mandoline or a sharp knife and place into a medium bowl.  Add the rinsed capers and the chives and parsley.

Prepare a pan with an inch or two of water and a steamer basket with a tight fitting lid. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, slice the calamari tubes into rings.  Once the water is boiling, place the calamari rings into the steamer basket in an even layer.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and steam for just 3-4 minutes or until the calamari become opaque and firm.

Steaming the calamari - Calamari Salad with Celery, Fennel & Capers

Transfer the calamari to the bowl with the vegetables and pour over all of the dressing.  Toss gently to combine.  Sprinkle the salad with more chili flakes and serve while still slightly warm.

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