A fresh calamari salad with smoky chorizo, garlic, lemon, red onion, roasted peppers, chickpeas and served with peppery arugula (rocket). Need I say more? Oh and it takes about 20 minutes to make! Sold!
You can’t help but daydream while eating calamari salad. Picture it….
You’re sitting in a little cafe somewhere on the coast of Spain, a glass of Albariño in hand, watching the fishing boats come in as you scoop up the perfect bite of smoky chorizo and calamari. Sounds lovely right?
Reality was quite different when I decided to make calamari salad this week. I wandering around the supermarket in a haze trying to remember what I needed to buy. Having just returned home from England my body was in the produce section but my brain was still sound asleep on the EasyJet plane I flew in on.
I wandered over to the fresh fish expecting to buy some salmon. It’s Fast February here at Spicy Fig so although I was not moving quickly I was thinking about speed in the kitchen. Salmon is always easy. But that’s when I saw the calamari. And the next time you see fresh, whole calamari at your fish market I want you to do exactly what I did. Buy it! Because if you want a fast, delicious meal this is it!
First, let’s talk calamari…(or squid)…
Calamar…..Spanish for squid. The first time I ate squid that wasn’t deep fried was in Spain and I will forever associate it with this beautiful country. I was in Mallorca, where they love to grill the whole squid and serve it with only lemon, garlic and parsley.
In the US we tend to think of calamari in only one way. Battered and fried. As if the squid crawled from the sea already coated in beer batter. But calamari is just as delicious when not submerged in a vat of oil. Grilled, sautéed, stuffed and baked, are all delicious ways to prepare squid.
Fear not though………unless you have scooped the squid out of the sea with your own hands chances are that you won’t have to clean it yourself. That’s what your fish monger is for. So just ask that they clean it for you. When you get them home just give them another run under the tap to make sure there is no sand or grit in the cavities.
The 60/60 rule for calamari….
Essentially calamari can cook in 60 seconds or 60 minutes. There is of course wiggle room in the rule so don’t set the timer on your smartphone quite yet. It’s just to remember that calamari is to be cooked at high temperatures very quickly or at lower temperatures more slowly. With sautéeing and frying we stick to the 60 second rule. If you thinly slice the calamari it only needs about 60 seconds on each side to cook. But don’t have faith in your timer alone. Look at the calamari. It needs to have lost its opaqueness and be white throughout. Then you know it’s cooked. You don’t want to overcook it or it becomes chewy but undercooked calamari is pretty gross so look at the color.
Calamari and Chorizo Salad with Arugula (Rocket) and Chickpeas….
If you come home with cleaned squid you can make Calamari and Chorizo salad in 25 minutes. The only thing that takes any time at all is roasting the pepper. (You can read more about roasting peppers here.) The chorizo we are using here is cured chorizo. In the US you can find raw sausages called chorizo but that is not what we want for this calamari salad. You need the cured chorizo that is usually sold like a stick of salami or pepperoni. You can usually buy mild chorizo or spicy. It’s up to you but I usually use mild chorizo and add chili to the salad if I want spice.
Chorizo gets its distinctive smoky flavor and red color from smoked red peppers so adding roasted peppers to the salad compliments that flavor and adds a nice textural contrast. Earthy chickpeas and peppery arugula add further dimensions of flavor and the lemon at the end finishes the salad perfectly.
Et voilà! A fast salad, perfect for a light dinner or first course any time of year or a lovely addition to your Summer BBQ spread.Print
A simple, fast salad that will transport you to the Spanish coast.
- 2 large red peppers
- 1 1/2 lbs (700 g) cleaned calamari
- 7–8 oz (200-225g) mild chorizo sausage (whole link)
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh chili, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
- 1 (14 oz or 400g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 large handfuls of chopped cilantro (coriander) or parsley
- 8 large handfuls of arugula/rocket
- 1 lemon, cut in to wedges
- good quality olive oil
- Roast the pepper in one of two ways – by placing it directly in the flame of your gas burner or by placing it directly under the broiler/grill of your oven. Read more here if you need more guidance on roasting peppers. When the pepper is chard on all sides place it in a small glass or ceramic bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap allowing it to steam.
- Rinse the calamari under the tap with cold water, making sure there is no sand or grit inside the cavity. Transfer to a cutting board and thinly slice the calamari into rings. Keep the tentacules whole. Place the sliced calamari on a plate covered with paper towel. Place another paper towel on top and pat dry the calamari. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Slice the chorizo in half lengthwise and then cut each half in to 1 cm thick half moon shapes.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Add the chorizo to the dry pan (no need for oil as the chorizo will release it’s own oil)
- Cook the chorizo on both sides until it is crispy and brown on each side. (This can be kind of hard to see because of the dark red color but you can feel the crispiness)
- While the chorizo is cooking remove the peppers from the bowl and peel the charred skin off the pepper. Discard the skin and thinly slice the roasted pepper.
- When the chorizo is crispy remove it from the pan and set aside but keep the smoky oil in the pan.
- Add the red onion to the pan and cook 2 minutes.
- Add the garlic and optional chili to the pan, stir and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the dried and seasoned calamari and cook until it is no longer opaque but a solid white throughout. This will take 2-4 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas and chorizo back to the pan and heat through.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the roasted peppers, lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh cilantro or parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Line 4 plates with arugula (rocket) and pile the salad on top.
- Serve with lemon wedges and good olive oil for drizzling.