My grandkids come running when they hear that I am serving calamari. They like them fried, grilled, or stuffed- any way will do. This salad is easily doubled for a larger group. If you have leftover coulis, it can be used to dress other fish, grilled chicken, or a hearty green salad, and it keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. This salad is also a delight when served while the calamari are still warm.
- Calamari and Salad
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound calamari tubes and tentacles, cleaned
- 2 cups thinly sliced celery on the bias (about 4 stalks), plus 1/2 cup inner celery leaves
- 3 tablespoons drained capers in brine
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
For the calamari, in a large bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the oil, the garlic, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the calamari, and toss to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
For the coulis, halve and core the tomatoes. Seed the tomatoes in a sieve over a bowl to catch the juices, pressing on the seeds to extract the juice. Discard the seeds, but reserve the juice.
In a blender, combine the seeded tomatoes, olive oil, shallot, vinegar, and salt. Blend until smooth. Pass through a sieve to make a silky, smooth sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt and a little more vinegar if needed.
For the calamari, preheat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, scrape the marinade from the calamari and set calamari on the grill. Weight with another heavy skillet or pot and grill, turning once, until crisp and just cooked through, about a minute or so per side- but do not overcook. Remove to a cutting board, and cut into 1-inch rings.
Put the calamari in a large serving bowl, add the celery and capers, and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar, and toss well.
To serve, spoon about half of the sauce as a base in a shallow serving bowl or platter. Mound the calamari salad on top. Serve the rest of the sauce in a bowl on the side.