Cast Iron

Pan-Roasted Calamari Salad with Tomatoes andĀ Avocado

May  1, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 for dinner
Author Notes

There was a short-lived restaurant on Dune Rd. in Westhampton owned by the Argentinian chef, Frances Mallman, that made a great pan-roasted calamari salad. I can't remember now if the original had cherry tomatoes and avocados or that is something I morphed into it but it was delicious nonetheless. I know the picture is a skate but I couldn't find one of a squid....... - Canned —Canned

Test Kitchen Notes

This is just about the easiest, quickest, most unique salad ever. The flavor of the crisp, well-browned calamari, along with its lemony marinade, and the barely warmed tomatoes and avocado are striking. This would be wonderful to serve for a dinner party because it truly does come together in a matter of minutes. A larger serving would make a lovely summer dinner over just-picked greens. I made it with my students today, most of whom had never tasted calamari. True confessions: Many were simply afraid of it. It was a great delight to us all and they were very surprised to find that they genuinely liked it. Several said they would prepare it at home; I know I will! - boulangere —boulangere

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound cleaned calamari, mostly bodies
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 chile de arbol, pinched into little pieces
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, minced and divided
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, minced
  • 1 bunch arugula, cleaned
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Slice the cleaned squid bodies into rings about 1/2 inch thick. Clean the spiders and place prepared squid in a bowl with a lid.
  2. Add olive oil, 1/2 parsely, garlic, chile, lemon juice and zest to the squid and mix. Cover and refrigerate for at lease one hour or more.
  3. Preheat a cast iron pan over high heat until it is almost smoking. Dump cold squid mixture into frying pan and spread out. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, let it sit searing for a good two minutes. Stir a couple of times and let it sit for another two minutes. Stir again. By this time the calamari should be getting crusty. If not stir again and keep cooking. You want to pan-roast the calamari until it is browned but not burned.
  4. When calamari is about done, add the diced avocado, tomatoes and red onion to the skillet. Remove from heat. Place a handful of arugula on each plate and top with calamari. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon slices.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • boulangere
  • Canned
  • Firecracker Karen
    Firecracker Karen
  • Amy B
    Amy B

22 Reviews

Firecracker K. July 25, 2016
Hello! I'm looking for a salad to take for a day at the lake and came across your recipe! The best calamari my hubby and I have ever had was grilled, so I'm jazzed to try this recipe. One issue is that I can't have tomatoes. Argh... Do you have any suggestions for a substitute? Many thanks!
Canned July 25, 2016
Maybe try grilled red pepper? I think that would go with it well...maybe add a couple of pitted oil-cured olives, a little (not stale) paprika and give it a Spanish spin? Good luck!
Firecracker K. July 25, 2016
Thank you for your quick reply and suggestion. Unfortunately, the red pepper is also a no-no, but I like your idea of the oil-cured olives. I had to laugh at your "not stale" paprika comment. So true! I just Googled "substitutes for tomatoes" and came across the suggestion of under-ripe mango or cucumbers for coming close to the tart, watery flavors tomatoes bring. I will let you know how it goes! Thanks!
Canned July 25, 2016
Or given the season - maybe a grilled peach or nectarine - off in a different direction again but it might be delicious.....
Firecracker K. July 25, 2016
You know, nectarines came to mind, but the peach didn't. I like both options, especially grilling them. I will update you once I've made it. Thanks so much for responding so quickly and, well, just responding. I've noticed that many of the people who post their recipes don't necessarily answer questions and it's left to others on the site to answer the questions. So, thanks!
boulangere July 13, 2014
I remember this vividly, as I was its fortunate tester. It still remains one of the best things I've ever eaten.
Canned July 17, 2013
No, there isn't any water in the recipe and the olive oil and lemon juice goes into the pan with teh calamari. I just thought perhaps the liquid came from frozen calamari since the 1/2 cup of olive oil for one lb. of calamari, the tomatoes and avocado isn't a lot of liquid to start with. Sorry for the confusion but I can't think what else it may have been.
Amy B. July 17, 2013
Now I'm confused because I don't recall water in recipe. Calamari had been frozen but was thawed. I can't imagine that 1/2 cup olive oil and juice of a lemon would be absorbed while sitting in refrigerator. So what I dumped in hot pan was calamari with all that liquid. Was I supposed to remove it from the liquid?
Canned July 17, 2013
I have never had a problem with liquid. Were you using frozen calamari that still had ice on it? The oil liquid readily seems to be absorbed and flavors the other ingredients. All I can think of is to try drying the calamari with a paper towel before putting it in the water. Sorry.
Amy B. July 17, 2013
Just made for lunch and we loved it. However, puzzled by the browning and pan roasting because there was too much liquid for either to happen without overcooking. Thoughts?
boulangere June 10, 2011
I used this in a summertime cooking class with bright flavors and minimal fuss tonight. I substituted tilapia for the calamari, but the marinating and cooking methods and ingredients were identical. Everyone was astonished that the fish wasn't overdone, and at the tomato and avocado flavors. This is to a keeper. Thank you very much.
Canned June 11, 2011
Thanks! Tilapia is a great idea - over to the docks tomorrow to find some....or something similar.
boulangere June 11, 2011
Seriously, your recipe is genius. I continue to be amazed by how flexible it is, and by how both bright and deep its flavors. This afternoon I ran into two people who had been in the class last night, and they'd both gone out this morning and gotten ingredients to make this tonight.
boulangere May 17, 2011
Today was test day, and we absolutely loved it. The browned flavor of the calamari is heavenly. I especially liked the last touch of tossing the tomatoes and avocados (though I'll admit I had a moment's pause with the latter) into the pan at the last minutes to marry all the lovely juices and bring down their temperatures. Most of my students had never tasted calamari before today, and many confessed to being somewhat terrified of it. Our rule is: taste everything. So they did, and were amazed that they loved it. Thank you, this is just lovely.
Canned May 17, 2011
Thanks, I'm so glad you and your students enjoyed it!
boulangere May 12, 2011
I claimed it for the EP test. Can't wait.
Canned May 12, 2011
Wow! Thanks - if you have any questions, let me know....
boulangere May 12, 2011
I'm hoping I have your permission to use frozen calamari. I'm landlocked, and that's my best bet. Your flavors and textures are so wonderful I couldn't resist. If it needs to be fresh, say the word, and I'll give it back for someone else to try.
Canned May 12, 2011
No problem. I am so lucky where I am but not a mountain in sight....go for the frozen. Try to defrost in cold lightly salted water if you have the time - or else lukewarm - and dry well. Ignore me - I'm stating the obvious.
boulangere May 14, 2011
Thanks for the advice. I'm planning to make this with my students on Monday, so we'll arrive at a group evaluation. They're very much looking forward to it.
Canned May 7, 2011
Thanks! I have a cople of small individual cast iron skillets that I use to make it and then serve - but you have to move fast to squish the arugula under the squid in the hot skillet.
boulangere May 1, 2011
Wonderful ingredients and great description of your preparation. This looks fantastic, and I imagine is beautiful on the plate.