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Marinated Calamari and Rice Salad

Rice salads with seafood and vegetables are popular throughout the Mediterranean. This one was inspired by the flavors of a Greek baked squid dish, ryzosalata me kalamari, in which calamari are stuffed with rice studded with currants and pine nuts. Serve the salad at room temperature as part of a meze spread, or as a simple meal with pita bread and a glass of Greek white wine. It’s worth calling around to find a fish market that sells cleaned squid, which will save you time. If you can’t find it and need to clean it yourself, buy 1 1/2 lb.

Ingredients:

  • Sea salt, to taste, plus 1/4 tsp.
  • 1 lb. cleaned squid, bodies cut into rings 1/2 inch wide
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the squid rings and tentacles and blanch just until opaque and the rings hold their shape, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, onion, garlic, parsley, the 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

In a saucepan over high heat, bring 2 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and let cool to room temperature.

Add the rice to the squid mixture along with the currants, pine nuts, tomatoes and mint. Toss to distribute the ingredients evenly, then taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 day, then bring to room temperature before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking, by Charity Ferreira, Dana Jacobi & Carolyn Miller (Oxmoor House, 2008).