This fabulous and simple recipe starts again with my friend’s Meyer lemon tree. It’s the gift that seems to keep on giving all year around even though it has its seasonal ups and downs. The zest of these lemons mixed with shallots is perfect for a seafood salad. Clearly this is a departure from the thousand island or cocktail sauce seafood salads of the past. And, if you are willing to take the time to clean squid, you can have a very inexpensive starter course. I have never tried to describe the process before in writing so bear with me. You can also find pictures and descriptions of other ways to do this online.
Lettuces of your choice or Belgian endive
2 ½ pounds squid, cleaned
3 Meyer lemons
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Lay a squid out on a cutting board with the little wings down. Stretch out the tentacles in front. Cut the tentacles off just in front of the eye. Squeeze the tissue to make sure the little piece of the beak is removed. Put the tentacles in a colander. Hold down the tail of the squid firmly with one hand. Place the dull back of a knife across the squid just in front of the tail. Press down and slide the knife toward the head which extrudes the insides. Some of this will be inky black. Discard what came out. Now you will likely see the transparent “spine”. Hold the back of the knife down on the spine and slide it out of the body (mantle). Take hold of the wings and pull them plus the skin off. Turn the mantle inside out like a finger puppet and clean out any remaining stuff. You can also just put your finger in until the mantle tears along one side. You end up with a good clean flat piece of squid. No one eating the salad will notice if the mantle is still in a tube or not if you don’t mention it. Repeat. Rinse everything in a colander and dry the squid with a paper towel.
Wash and dry the lettuces. Finely mince the shallots. Using a vegetable peeler, remove just the yellow zest from the lemons. Don’t dig in hard and get the white pith. It’s bitter. Mince the zest. Mix it with the shallots. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the bowl. Add the champagne vinegar. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Whisk in 5 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the squid for a minute or two. Add the squid to the vinaigrette and let it sit a little while. Arrange lettuces artfully on plates. Drizzle them with some of the vinaigrette then mound the squid in the center. This recipe could also be great with crab, shrimp, or other precooked morsels of a white fish.