Grilled Squid With Arugula and Grapefruit Vinaigrette From 'Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen'

[Photograph: Eric Wolfinger]

I love the idea of this salad from Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos' new cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen. Charred calamari, tart grapefruit, crunchy fennel, and peppery arugula seem like a winning combination. Sadly, it didn't quite come together for me.

All the components were there: sweetness, bitterness, acid, a little heat. But the balance just wasn't there. For one thing, there's simply too much calamari. The other components were overwhelmed the squid's assertive flavor and texture. And, if you use all the dressing as directed, you'll end up with more soup than salad. Finally, Mazar and Corcos suggest that it serves four to six as a main course, but I honestly can't imagine it satisfying more than two.

In light of the problems I encountered, I'd recommend doubling the grapefruit, fennel, and arugula, and dressing the mix to taste. Luckily, it's a relatively simple and straightforward tweak to execute, and will land you with the appealing, refreshing salad this dish deserves to be.

Why I picked this recipe: It has the potential to be a bright, filling salad that would work year-round.

What worked: The concept. It's a beautiful salad, in theory.

What didn't: The execution. Too much squid, too much dressing, and not enough of everything else.

Suggested tweaks: Fill out the salad by doubling the fruit and veg components. Also, if your grapefruit skews sweet, as mine did, a squeeze or two of lemon juice in the dressing will work wonders.

Grilled Squid With Arugula and Grapefruit Vinaigrette From 'Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen'

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About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 4 to 6
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:45 minutes
Special equipment:Grill or cast iron skillet
This recipe appears in: Grilled Squid With Arugula and Grapefruit Vinaigrette From 'Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen'

Ingredients

  • Salad
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon plus the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 pound calamari, cleaned, tentacles removed, and bodies sliced into 1-inch rings
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 bulb fennel
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • Grapefruit Viniagrette
  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Procedures

  1. 1

    To make the salad: Preheat a grill to high heat, or prepare a charcoal grill until the coals are bright red.

  2. 2

    In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Add the calamari and toss. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

  3. 3

    Supreme the grapefruit and squeeze the membranes over a medium bowl. (See note on supreming, below.) Reserve the juices for the vinaigrette (see below).

  4. 4

    Remove the calamari from the marinade and skewer them. Season the calamari with salt and pepper to taste and grill them about 2 minutes per side, until slightly charred and opaque. (You can also use a hot cast iron skillet on the stove to cook the calamari. Shake the excess marinade from the calamari and sear on each side for 2 minutes.)

  5. 5

    Using a mandoline, shave the fennel bulb into thin slices. In a large bowl, combine the calamari, fennel, arugula, and grapefruit segments.

  6. 6

    To make the grapefruit vinaigrette: To the bowl with the membrane-squeezed grapefruit juice, whisk in the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. 7

    Add the vinaigrette to the large bowl with the calamari and toss. Season to taste and serve immediately.

  8. 8

    IMPORTANTE! Supreming is a way of extracting the juiciest, purest segments from a fruit, and an easy technique to master. Using a sharp knife, trim the top and bottom of the orange (by either a 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch). Do this over a bowl to capture the juices. Then, carefully cut away the peel, making sure to remove the pith just under the peel as well. (Do this by cutting from the top down.) Then, remove the wedges by cutting as close to the white membrane as possible, through the fruit to the center, then following through along the very next membrane. This should result in nice, juicy-looking segments.

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