Squid Pro Quo

Though most squid now sold in the U.S. is imported, according to the Seafood Watch Program, California market squid caught in California with purse seines is a “Best Choice.” This includes squid sold under the names: California Squid, Ika, Market Squid, Opal Squid, and Opalescent Inshore Squid.

For a delectable squid casserole, heat up a Dutch oven or deep, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove until its very hot. Add a fennel bulb, a couple of onions, a few carrots, a pair of red peppers, and several stalks of celery, all of which you have cut into small strips of a similar size and width.

With about four cups in all, stir the vegetables in the dry Dutch oven over high heat for a minute or two until they become nicely aromatic. Now lower the flame and add roughly three cups of fresh (or defrosted) squid cut into similar dimensions as the vegetables. Now add about a third of a cup of olive oil and stir the squid while quickly adding :

  • 2 or 3 anchovy-fillets minced
  • 4 or 5 large lobes of garlic smashed and finely minced
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 cup crisp white wine
  • 1/2 cup roughly minced Italian parsley 
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped arugula
  • 1/4 cup roughly minced fresh garden herbs such as marjoram, basil, thyme, and sage.
  • 1 tablespoon powdered dried chile pepper of choice
  • 1 cup organic vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 1 large oven-roasted eggplant minced finely with a heavy knife on a cutting board
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Mix everything quickly, cover the Dutch tightly, and simmer over a very low flame for about thirty minutes. Try not to lift the lid during this period in order to give the squid a chance to receive a nice slow, steamy, salty, and brightly acidic herbal infusion. If you wish, you can shake the pot around every now and then to help cook things evenly and to keep yourself busy.

After the half an hour has elapsed, lift the lid, adding a generous splash of White Balsamic Vinegar or late-harvest white wine. If you wish, you can add another squeeze of lemon juice and perhaps a final splash of olive oil.

Now cover the pot, turn off the flame, and let the squid steam in the Dutch oven until you are ready to dine. Serve the dish in a well of Cous Cous or Quinoa* accompanied by a salad of arugula, tomato, and red onion dressed in aged balsamic vinegar, good fruity olive oil,  crushed black pepper, and a handful of finely grated Grana Padano or Peccorino cheese.

The final element of the meal is a broiler-toasted sourdough baguette spread generously with a combination of ghee, olive oil, mashed garlic, sea-salt and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve with crisp white wine such as cold-climate Chardonnay, Orvieto, or Sauvignon Blanc.

*You can also forgo the Cous Cous or Quinoa and instead simply add cooked penne or fusilli pasta directly into the Dutch Oven at the last moment in order to compose Calamari Pasta!