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Calamari with Warm Potato-Basil Salad

Uncleaned calamari is a bargain but is tedious to prepare, making cleaned calamari worth the extra expense. The tentacles are not used here because they will fall through the grill rack. If you want to cook them, use a grill screen or mesh grill pan.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lemons
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 1/4 lb. red potatoes, cut into rounds 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more, as needed
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 lb. cleaned calamari (about 24), without tentacles

Directions:

Make the potato salad
Prepare a hot fire in a grill.

Grate the zest from 1 lemon and then juice the lemon to yield 3 Tbs. Cut the second lemon into wedges. Set the lemon zest, juice and wedges aside.

In a large, nonstick fry pan over high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil until very hot. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring often, until coated with oil and beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the water, reduce the heat to medium and cover tightly. Cook, adding a little more water if needed to keep the potatoes from burning, until the potatoes are tender and the water has evaporated, about 18 minutes. Stir in the shallot, lemon zest, basil, 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice and 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Grill the calamari
Using a sharp knife, slit each calamari lengthwise, then open it flat, with the inside facing up. Using the tip of the knife, score the flesh in a large crosshatch pattern. In a bowl, toss the calamari with the remaining 1 Tbs. each lemon juice and olive oil. Lightly oil the grill rack. Place the calamari on the grill and cook uncovered, turning once, until just seared on both sides, about 2 minutes total (it will curl). Do not overcook. Divide the calamari and potato salad among individual plates and serve immediately with the lemon wedges. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Grilling, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2007).