As summer has officially arrived in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s only fitting I break out the warm weather recipes with my Calamari Panzanella salad. Admittedly, panzanella is a bit of repeat feature in my recipe repertoire but purely because it’s such a wonderful way to enjoy perfectly ripe tomatoes. And I don’t know about you, but my resolution going into 2023 will be to eat more tomatoes!

This time around I’ve added grilled calamari for a Grecian twist – the buttery flavour and texture of the calamari works so well with the bright acidity of the tomatoes. If one isn’t able to get one’s hands on calamari, then white anchovy fillets, grilled chicken breast or crispy pancetta cubes would also be delicious as a replacement. Another option would be to switch the sourdough croutons for bruschetta and top garlicky toasted slices with the tomato salad.

Calamari Panzanella Salad

Prep time: 15 mins /Cook time: 15 mins /Serves: 4-6

For the panzanella:

  • 400g heirloom tomatoes, washed and quartered
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 4 slices of stale ciabatta
  • Olive oil
  • 30ml red wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs of fresh basil, leaves stripped from woody stalks
  • Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons baby capers, drained

For the calamari:

  • 500g baby (or Patagonian) squid tubes and tentacles (local chokka from Greenfish is also great)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 small red chillies, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the croutons, roughly tear the sourdough bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Drizzle over a little olive oil and roughly tear over the rosemary. Add in the crushed garlic, season the bread with sea salt and scatter over a lined baking sheet. Toast the sourdough croutons on the lower rack for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. 

Add the cleaned squid to a bowl with the chopped chillies and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir to coat the squid in the chillies and oil. Heat a pan to very hot and fry the squid in batches, cooking for between 1-3 minutes per batch or until the squid is golden and curling at the edges. Once cooked, set the squid aside.

To assemble the panzanella, combine the quartered tomatoes with the red wine vinegar, basil leaves and capers. Drizzle over about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season the salad with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir through the sourdough croutons and grilled squid and garnish with a few more basil leaves after plating.

Serve the Calamari Panzanella with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

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