Saturday, April 03, 2010

Andrew Carmellini's Squid Salad

It's such an enormous pleasure when a recipe works the first time through. Having written and tested my fair share of recipes, I can't tell you how many times I'll cook something, only to realize midway through that there is no way that's it's going to turn out OK. There is twice as much batter as there is space in the pan. Cooking it for 20 more minutes is going to result in incineration. Holy hell, there are a lot of bad recipes out there. And it's just not fair--if you're going to spend time and money making something, it should turn out right. The first time. No fussing.

Which is why I'm so thrilled about Andrew Carmellini's Urban Italian book. Not only is it filled with recipes that I can't wait to make, the two that I've tried so far have been total slam dunks. A few weeks ago I saw fresh, wild squid at the market (a total bargain for $3 a pound if you're willing to do the inky work yourself, something I find kind of fun). I cleaned the squid, cooked them in simmering (not boiling, as that would turn it to rubber) water, chilled it fully and then combined it with thinly sliced celery and red onion and chickpeas. I dressed the whole thing with harissa, a mess of lemon juice, good olio nuovo and lots of salt and pepper. And then? I couldn't stop eating it. I had it for dinner, then again for lunch, and lunch the day after that. It's the perfect salad for this shoulder season, while we wait for the rest of the spring vegetables to appear but we still need something more substantial for supper.