Thursday, May 6, 2010
Here's a colourful cold salad that makes a great antipasto all year round, or a lunch or side dish. Years ago, after sampling fried Calamari for the first time in a fishing village in Italy, I knew I was going to have to learn to clean them myself when I returned to Canada. An Italian friend was more than happy to show me how, and I think of Antonietta every time I do this job. It's not difficult, but it takes time.
I'm happy to report that I have now found a source of already cleaned squid, which makes the whole process, whether you're frying them or making this cold salad, a cinch!
I hope you, too, can be so lucky.
Again, I cannot give you amounts. Use as much calamari as you think you'll need for the number you're serving, and whether or not you're serving this as a main dish at lunch or as an antipasto. It looks great on a buffet, and leftovers taste even better the next day.
Cut the cleaned squid into rings about 1/2 inch wide. If there are tentacles, leave them whole. When a pot of salted water has come to the boil, drop in the cut-up calamari and leave them in for no more than 30 seconds, then remove to a plate or bowl with a slotted spoon. Leave them to cool.
While they're cooling, mince a clove or two of garlic and a shallot or two. Put these into the bottom of the bowl or dish in which you will be serving the salad. Now cut up and add a ripe tomato or two, a sweet red pepper (raw), a bunch of parsley and several leaves of basil.(Some recipes call for black olives and scallions or a red onion finely diced.) Now add the cooled calamari and toss together. Add the juice of one lemon and a squirt of red wine vinegar. Add some good olive oil and salt to taste. Some of you will want to add cilantro instead of parsley. Go ahead.
Give it all a good stir and taste. Adjust the salt, vinegar, lemon juice etc. to suit your palate. Remember that it will be much more flavourful once it has had time to sit, at room temperature, so that the flavours can blend before you serve it.