I am a huge fan of squid. I like the tentacles, the flavour and the texture, probably the three things that put people off. However, I am not greatly fond of those battered calamari that you often get in a certain kind of Italian restaurants. We’ve all had them; rubbery rings in a stodgy batter, straight out of a chilled delivery van via the freezer and the deep fat fryer. That isn’t to say that battered squid has to be like that. You can get freshly made rings in a nice light and crisp batter if you are lucky and eat in a restaurant near the sea, where the seafood comes straight off of the boats or from the local market. Such places are rare, though.
Anyway, there are better things you can do with squid, and I like it griddled or simply fried in olive oil and seasoned with some salt, pepper and some kind of chilli.
This dish was one of those. I marinated the cleaned squid in lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and piment d’Espelette, that Basque chilli which gives warmth without fire.
The cooking was simple and, importantly fast. Hot olive oil in a frying pan, tentacles first and then the pieces of body, turned a couple of times and out of the pan within two minutes. That way it doesn’t turn rubbery.
I served the squid on top of a dish of Puy lentils which I had cooked with a soffrito of chopped shallot, celery and carrot softened in olive oil, white wine, chopped parsley, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, water and some tomato passata until the lentils were tender.
Once plated up, a drizzle of fruity olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice was all it needed. Apart from a nice chilled glass of crisp dry white wine, or maybe a dry but fruity rosé.