This warm squid salad is one of my new favourite ways to eat squid. Sure, fried calamari is great and all, but it can be a bit oily and heavy to eat all the time. This salad, on the other hand, is light and refreshing with lightly sautéed squid rings and a dressing made with fresh mint, lime juice and a bit of heat from fresh chili pepper. Some pan roasted sliced almonds add a nice toasty crunch just in case you will miss that mouthfeel from fried squid. Plus, there’s some green stuff (baby spinach, lamb’s lettuce, arugula, or frisée lettuce. Whatever you like) in there as well, so you can really call it a ‘salad’, right?
Serves about two as a light main or lunch, or four as a little side, or appetiser.
Tip: If you’ve got a (charcoal) grill, this dish is made even better with freshly grilled squid. Grill the squid whole and cut it into rings after grilling before adding to this salad.
Squid Salad with Toasted Almonds, Chili, Mint and Lime
- 750g whole squid (or about 500g cleaned)
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- Pinch of salt
- Two handfuls of small salad leaves such as baby spinach, lamb’s lettuce (corn salad), arugula, or frisée lettuce
- 1 - 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds
- For the dressing:
- Small bunch of fresh mint leaves (you’ll need about 10g in leaves), alternatively you can use cilantro if you don’t like mint, or parsley if you don’t like either.
- 1 fresh red or green chili pepper, or add more to taste
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Make the dressing: Remove the mint leaves from their stalks until you’ve got about a handful (about 10g in leaves). Throw mint leaves in a food processor together with 1 small garlic clove, the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon capers, chili, and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Process until finely chopped (pulse setting if you’ve got the option). Set aside until ready for plating.
- To prepare the squid: If you’ve got a whole squid, clean it by separating the tentacles and head from the body by gently but firmly pulling them apart. Cut right underneath the eyes to remove them (and the guts) and slice in between the tentacles to remove the beak/mouth (toss the eyes, beaks and guts). Pull the skin off the body and slice the body of the squid into 1.5cm rings.
- Toast almonds: Place a frying pan over medium-high heat (use a large enough pan to cook the squid in after). Add the sliced almonds and toast until they start to turn slightly brown. Remove almonds from pan.
- Sauté squid: Turn up the heat to high and heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil (or other neutral flavoured oil) in the pan. Let the pan get really hot, then add the pieces of squid. Season the squid lightly with a little salt and sauté until the squid just turns opaque and you start seeing little lightly caramelised parts – this should only take about a minute or two. Don’t overcrowd the pan and work in batches if necessary until all squid is cooked.
- Remove cooked squid from the pan into a bowl and toss lightly with about two tablespoons of the dressing. Allow to cool slightly.
- Wash the salad leaves and arrange on a plate, or serving platter. Arrange dressed squid over the salad leaves. Drizzle more dressing over the top and sprinkle on the toasted sliced almonds. Serve immediately while the squid is slightly warm, or cool.