Friday, June 3, 2011

Grilled Calamari Salad with Spiced Chickpeas

I love salads. I really do.

How can you not when your salad looks like this?

grilled calamari_01

I love the fact that you can turn something as plain and boring as lettuce leaves and turn them into art on a plate. You can play and experiment with various produce, and have fun with colours, textures and temperatures.

The personality of the salad is endless, as long as you use your creativity in the kitchen.

I've been craving some grilled calamari lately. Perhaps its the warmer weather, but I love eater lighter in the summer and seafood is always high-up on my list. Best done over a real grill, but if you don't have the luxury of one, like myself, a grill pan will be an appropriate substitute.

The trick to this salad is making the main stars shine. Don't overpower the calamari and the spiced chickpeas with a strong dressing. A little bit of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper go a very long way.

Grilled Calamari Salad
Serves 1

1 1/2 cups spring mix
1 calamari, cleaned
3/4 lemon, plus another
1/4 cup cooked chickpeas
1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Small handful fresh mint, finely chopped
Small handful fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 edible flowers (optional)

Rinse the cleaned calamari and pat dry with some paper towel. Remove the tentacles and cut in half, removing the beak in the process. Taking the body of the calamari, make a cut about 1/2 inch apart, ensuring you don't cut all the way through so that the top of the calamari is still keeping the whole body intact. Place the body and the tentacles in a small, non-reactive bowl. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, juice of 1/4 of a lemon, a pinch of dried chilli flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.

While the calamari is marinating, heat some olive oil in a small heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add a pinch of dried chilli flakes, to taste, and garlic clove, and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and stir to combine and warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cumin and chilli powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and fry for another minute until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a heavy grill pan over medium-high heat. While the pan is heating up, place the spring mix in a bowl and dress with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of 1/4 of lemon, and season with salt and pepper. Taste and if need be, add a little more olive oil or lemon juice to adjust the flavours. Lightly pile the salad on a plate and sprinkle over with the warm chickpeas.

When the pan is hot enough, place the calamari pieces on the grill. The tentacles will instantly curl and cook very fast; turn after a minute and cook for another minute before removing from the pan. The body can be cooked for 2 minutes before turning. Cook for another 2 minutes and remove from heat. Carefully pile on top of the salad and drizzle with a little more olive oil and lemon juice. Add the edible flowers, if using, and enjoy!


Sylvia June 3, 2011 at 9:17 a.m.  

Yay!! LOVED that photo when you tweeted it, thanks for the recipe!

The Food Junkie June 3, 2011 at 9:43 a.m.  

That salad looks way too pretty to eat :)

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