With all this rejuvenating March sun my thoughts have turned to eating lighter, fresher meals. Spring is the perfect time to embark on a detox but if that’s a step too far for you (it is for me!), then this char-grilled squid salad with herb dressing is full of fresh, zingy flavours and has that feel-good factor.
The beauty of squid is that it takes next to no time to cook – a minute or so is enough, any longer and it becomes tough and rubbery (ironically you can also slow-cook it but anything in the middle is a no-no). Mizuna has a slightly peppery flavour similar to rocket.
60g mizuna leaves or rocket leaves
100g baby spinach leaves
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered, seeded and diced
2 lemons, halved
500g prepared and cleaned small squid
2 tbsp snipped chives
1 medium-sized red chilli, seeded and cut into thin strips
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking squid
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 handfuls of basil leaves
1 handfulof oregano leaves
juice of ½ lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a mini processor or blender and blend until the herbs are finely chopped. (You could also chop the herbs by hand.) Season the dressing and leave to one side.
2 Arrange the salad leaves on a large serving plate and scatter the tomatoes over.
3 Slice off the squid tentacles if there are any. Open out the body of each squid and cut in half, then score the skin using the tip of a sharp knife into a diamond pattern. Pour enough oil to lightly coat the squid into a large bowl and season. Add the squid (including the tentacles) and turn until coated in the oil.
4 Heat a large, ridged griddle pan over a medium-high heat and sear the lemon halves, pressing them down until caramelized in places. Remove from the griddle and leave to one side. Next, griddle the squid bodies in batches for 1½ minutes, turning once and pressing them down with a spatula, until cooked and charred in places. Griddle any tentacles, too, for 1 minute, turning once.
5 Arrange the squid on top of the salad, spoon the herb dressing over the top and scatter with the chives and chilli. Serve the chargrilled lemons by the side for squeezing over.
Find this recipe and more in Nicola Graimes’ new book The Salad Bowl published by Ryland Peters & Small.
Photography credit: Matt Russell