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.
- 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
- Puree the tomatoes, garlic and basil in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve over warm couscous.