Insalata di Calamari

Insalata di Calamari


  •     2½ lb medium-large calamari (uncleaned) or 2 lb cleaned, uncut calamari

  •     1 lemon

  •     2 fresh bay leaves

  •     ¾ tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste

  •     5 tbsp best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, or more if needed

  •     2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from lemon used above)

  •     ¼ tsp peperoncino flakes, or to taste

  •     1 tsp finelt grated orange zest

  •     2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley


  1. Clean the calamari one at a time by pulling the tentacles slowly until all of the innards come out of the body. Cut off the tentacles below the eyes, and discard the rest of the head and the innards; pop out and discard the small hard beak where the tentacles join. Cut off the pointy tip of each body, and peel off the skin; discard both. Rinse the trimmed tentacles and the body, holding it open under running water to flush out the cavity. Slice the cleaned bodies crosswise, in rings 1/3 inch thick. Drain all the cleaned tentacles and rings in the steamer basket colander.

  2. Meanwhile, pour enough water into the steamer or deep pot so that when you set the basket in position it doesn’t touch the water.

  3. Shave off the lemon peel (zest layer only) with a vegetable peeler, in short strips. Squeeze the juice of the lemon and reserve. Drop the zest into the water with the bay leaves, cover the pot, and simmer the water for about ½ an hour to infuse it with the aromas of the lemon and bay leaves.

  4. Keep the water simmering, set the steamer basket with all the calamari in it inside, and steam the calamari gently. After 2 minutes, life the cover, tumble the calamari over a couple of times in the colander, and sprinkle a couple pinches of salt over it. Cover and steam another 2 minutes, tumble, and salt again. Repeat after 2 more minutes –  you should have used ¼ tsp salt in all. Steam for a total of 8 to 10 minutes.

  5. When the calamari is tender but slightly resilient to the bite, remove the colander, season the pieces with another ¼ tsp salt, mix well, then let them drain and cool for minutes.

  6. Turn the calamari into a bowl while still quite warm. Toss with the olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle over the remaining salt, the peperoncino, grated orange zest, and parsley, and toss well again. Taste, and adjust the seasonings.

  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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