Sicilian Lifeguard Squid with Couscous

I have one thing to ask of you  - please don’t be squeamish about eating squid. I know these bottomfeeding creatures look a bit freaky with their tentacles and all, but squid deserve a more elevated place on your daily menu.

I’ve compiled a short list of good-to-know facts about these tasty cephalopods to help you in your journey toward squiddy-liciousness. Squid are:

* Cheap! They cost less per pound than seafood, poultry or red meat
* Low in fat, high in lean protein
* FAST to cook – in less than 3 minutes
* Hornier than Hugh Hefner; they have frenzied mating orgies

Mario Batali’s recipe for Two-Minute Calamari, Sicilian Lifeguard Style appears in his Babbo cookbook, which I was compelled to make the other night. I’m not clear on whether this recipe is acutally traditional in Sicily; I’m thinking Mario was going for a sexy title. He explains that pine nuts, currants, capers and chiles put a “hot and sour Arabic kiss” on the squid. Sounds good to me.

Later, I Googled around and found Melissa Clark’s version of the recipe, which turned out to be very much how I had made it, sans currants (maybe Sicilian in character, but not so appealing to me), and including spinach since I had some.

Sicilian Lifeguard Squid with Couscous

Serving Size: serves 4 - 6

Ingredients

2 cups canned diced or crushed tomatoes

3 gloves garlic

Handful fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large shallot or small onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup capers in brine, drained

1 1/2 pounds cleaned squid bodies and tentacles, sliced 1/2-inch wide

2 cups baby spinach leaves

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

3 scallions, chopped

2 cups cooked Israeli pearl couscous

Instructions

  1. Puree the tomatoes, garlic and basil in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, pine nuts and red pepper and cook until the nuts are golden, stirring frequently; about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the pan and bring to a simmer before adding the capers and squid. Cover and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, just until the squid is completely opaque. Stir in the spinach until it wilts. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed and toss in the scallions.
  4. Serve over warm couscous.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/04/sicilian-lifeguard-squid-with-couscous/

Mangoes, Strawberries and Lime – Oh My!

Okay – so this is not much of a recipe post, but more of a celebration of seasonal fruit.

We’re right on the threshold of summer and the promise of all the sweet fruit I love – plums, peaches, cherries, nectarines – is right around the corner. Cooking and eating at this time of year is all about keeping things simple, celebrating perfectly ripe, fresh food and trying to not mess it up too much.

I’m always happy to see Champagne mangoes appear in markets in late spring. “Champagne” is a sexy marketing name, the variety is actually an Ataulfo or Manila mango from Mexico. The flesh is super sweet and has almost zero fiber – to me this readily available fruit is as close as I can get to mango heaven without having to move to the tropics.