Healthy Cooking Thursday – Calamari Salad


calamari salad plateAs some of you out there know, one of my favorite things about the holidays is the Feast of the Seven Fishes, my husband Jamie’s family tradition which I have co-opted into a week of seafood leading up to Christmas Day.  While it may seem like it’s easy to eat healthy when seafood is all over the menu, many of the traditional dishes from Jamie’s childhood are fried (shrimp, calamari, smelt, and eel among them), and since it is one of the few times of year I am home to cook for him, let’s just say I like to flex my culinary muscles and throw in some richer ingredients, too.

In the midst of all this holiday feasting, I always work some lighter meals onto the menu.  The calamari salad recipe below is one of my husband’s favorites, and, to be completely honest, is the easiest dish I make during that week.  The total time to prep and cook this entire healthy meal is around a half an hour.

If you are worried about cooking squid, don’t be.  Many people are concerned about calamari becoming rubbery; it is important to be aware that squid has a window where its texture is lousy.  It needs to be cooked briefly over high heat (as in this recipe) or stewed for a long time (as I do with my four cheese-stuffed calamari, cooked for at least 8 hours in saffron marinara sauce).

Furthermore, cleaned squid is readily found at any good fishmonger.  My mother-in-law used to clean it herself; I don’t envy those days!  The important thing is to check out every piece carefully to make sure no little hard bits or sand remains, and to try to not let the tentacles bug you out.  Pretend you’re my hero Anthony Bourdain and just eat it.

Calamari Salad serves 2

8 ounces cleaned squid (calamari)
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup kalamata or green olives
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 T fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 cups romaine lettuce, cleaned and chopped
additional vegetables for salad
2 ounces baguette

Check the squid carefully for any remaining cartilage or sand; wash well, and slice the tubes (bodies) into rings with a very sharp knife.  Prep remaining ingredients and keep them close, as cooking will be brief.

Put a large pan over medium high heat and allow to become hot.

Add the olive oil to the pan, followed quickly by the squid and the garlic.  Stir constantly (think stir fry) for 30 seconds.  Add the olives, stir for five seconds, then add the zest and juice of the lemon.  Remove from heat and immediately transfer to serving dishes.  Sprinkle with parsley, salt, and pepper.

Serve the squid on a bed of romaine with additional salad vegetables and a side of baguette, if desired.

Do you have a favorite fast and healthy meal idea?

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