This is a perfect dish for a cool and sunny autumn afternoon, from my ebook Fresh Pantry: PEPPERS. Eat as many peppers as you can before they are all gone – we’re in our last days of harvesting them! My dear friend Ritzy, who seldom cooks but is always hungry said “omg. I love this salad so much! I gobbled up the entire grande bowl that you gave me.”
Chilled Squid with Pickled Peppers & Summer Herbs
This dish reminds me of a meal I ate in Croatia, along the coast where my cousins live. It draws on the fresh flavor of olives and parsley, and pairs both with a few slivers of pickled peppers. Little squids (aka calamari) can be intimidating for home cooks, but they are fast-cooking and actually
quite easy to work with. Most fish mongers sell squid already cleaned, so you need only worry about the timing. Cooked too long, squids go rubbery and are hard to chew. Cooked briefly, they are supple and lend a fabulous texture and flavor to this simple summer salad. This salad is also a great packed meal—make it ahead of time and bring it camping or on a picnic.
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (about 1¼ cups)
1 red serrano pepper, cut into thin strips
1-inch-piece fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
1 cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 pound cleaned squid, patted dry
¼ cup olive oil for frying, plus 3 tablespoons for salad
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 cups chopped fresh parsley (mint, cilantro, or basil also works well)
1 cup whole olives (green, black or mixed)
Set water to boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Boil the potatoes until cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool in a large bowl.
Put the bell pepper, serrano pepper, and ginger in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the rice wine vinegar and sugar until boiling; stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the peppers and set them aside to pickle while they cool.
To prepare the squid, cut the body portion into 1-inch rings. To cook the squid, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over high heat in a large sauté pan. You want the olive oil to be rippling and very hot. Drop in the squid and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and red chile flakes. Stirring constantly, cook the squid until just cooked through, about 1 minute. The squid may splatter and pop when it hits the heat, so be careful and wear an apron! Do not overcook the squid—it is ready quickly, when just opaque. You may have to cook the squid in batches if the saucepan is too full.
Remove the squid from sauté pan, using a slotted spoon, and add it to the cooled potatoes. Add the parsley and olives to the squid and potatoes. Drain the pickled peppers from the brine, reserving 3 tablespoons of the brine and discarding the ginger. Add the peppers and reserved brine to the squid-potato-parsley-olive salad. Add the remaining olive oil and fold gently to combine all ingredients well—be careful not to break down the potatoes. Serve immediately.
PANTRY NOTE: This salad holds well in the fridge, covered, for one day. Any longer and the squid loses its fresh flavor. Use any olives you prefer, or a mix of greens and blacks, but don’t scrimp on the olive oil. You want a nice grassy-tasting olive oil for this recipe, as with most salads.