6 servings as an appetizer or 3 or 4 as a main course
This is the warm salad we enjoyed at Manfredi Barbera’s as one of the appetizers. It is also delicious at room temperature—and in the heat of summer, it makes a marvelous main course or an accompaniment (contorno) to grilled fish or chicken.
- 2-1/2 pounds medium-large calamari (uncleaned) or 2 pounds cleaned uncut calamari
- 1 lemon
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- ¾ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt or to taste
- 5 tablespoons or more best quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon peperoncino or to taste
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Clean the calamari one at time, if necessary, by pulling the tentacles slowly until all 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 calamari body and peel off the skin; discard both. Rinse the trimmed tentacles and the body, holding it open under running water to flush the cavity. Slice the cleaned body crosswise, in rings 1/3-inch thick. Drain all the cleaned calamari tentacles and rings in the cooking colander.
Meanwhile, pour enough water into the deep pot so that when you set the colander in position it doesn’t touch the water.
Shave off the lemon peel (zest layer only) with a vegetable peeler, in short strips. Drop these into the water with the bay leaves, cover the pot and simmer the water for about ½ hour to infuse it with the aromas of lemon and bay.
Keep the water simmering and set the colander with all the squid in it inside the pot. Put on the cover and steam the calamari gently. After 2 minutes, lift the cover, tumble the calamari over a couple of times in the colander and sprinkle over a couple pinches of salt. Cover and steam another 2 minutes, tumble and salt again. Repeat after 2 more minutes—you should have used ¼ teaspoon salt in all. Steam for a total of 8 to 10 minutes.
When the calamari is tender but slightly resilient to the bite, remove the colander from the pot, season the pieces with another ¼ teaspoon salt and tumble them over. Let the calamari drain and cool for 5 minutes.
Turn the calamari into a bowl while still quite warm. Toss with the olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle over the remaining salt, peperoncino, grated orange zest, and parsley and toss well again. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Serve warm or at room temperature.