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


  • 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


  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.


  1. I have to try this! I love squiddy things in restaurants, but I haven’t tried to cook it at home before.

  2. Looks good and I have enough squid lovers in my house to make it worthwhile. Like most seafood the timing is essential!!!

  3. well, just because i wouldn’t eat it doesn’t mean you can’t take beautiful pictures of it!
    and three minutes? thats pretty impressive.
    nice job(:

  4. Rob Lander says:

    Haven’t found a squid recipe I didn’t like and I can’t wait to try this one—mmmm mmmm.

  5. I love squid and pearl couscous, and the spicier the better. This sounds like a great recipe, and I will certainly try it.

    • Lynda, I love to hear the words “love” “squid” and “spicier” in one sentence. You’re going to love it Lifeguard Style…

  6. Hey girlie,
    I haven’t been here in awhile. These look great! I’ll have to see if I can find squid here.

  7. I love squid, and like it spicy! Love this recipe, thank you for all your hard work. Great site!

  8. Hi Karen!

    I stumbled across your site while looking for almond milk recipes, and I just spent half of my evening devouring your blog! So many beautiful recipes! I’m very excited to try them (this one in particular). Already formulating my weekend grocery list 😉


  9. First time visiter…

    My husband does not like squid but we both love italian food. I will try this recipe and make him change his mind.

    Thanks a million!

    I am happy to have found your site : )

    Have a great weekend!


  10. bill from lachine says:

    Great looking recipe…..well have to give it a try. Its a coincidence since we have both squid and the Israeli couscous on hand.



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