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Grilled Stuffed Squid with Warm Spinach, Flageolets and Caramelized Salsify
Makes 4 entree servings
*1 shallot, minced
*1/2 bunch chives, minced
*1/2 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, stemmed and minced (about 1/3 cup)
*1/4 cup minced fresh chervil
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1 salt-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and finely chopped
*1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
*1 cup dried bread crumbs, moistened with a little water
*2 tbls. unsalted butter
*2 lbs. squid, cleaned
*2 tbls. grapeseed, canola or olive oil
*2 tbls. fresh lemon juice
*1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*1 1/2 lbs. savoy (crinkly-leaf) spinach, stemmed and rinsed
*Caramelized Salsify
1To make the ravigote stuffing for the squid, combine the shallot, herbs, garlic, anchovy, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse off and on for 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the container, then pulse for another 15 seconds to chop finely. Put the mixture in a small bowl and stir in the moistened bread crumbs.
2Melt the butter in a small saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Increase the heat to high and cook the squid tentacles for 1 minute. Remove, finely chop and add to the bowl with the stuffing. Stir well to combine. The mixture should be moist and pasty; add more water if necessary.
3Turn the squid bodies inside out. Using either a small espresso spoon or a pastry bag, push about 1 tbls. of the stuffing into each body making sure it's no more than three-fourths full. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
4To grill the squid, heat a grill pan over high heat. Coat the squid with oil and season each side with salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, then turn over and grill until opaque and grill-marked, about 3 minutes. Set aside in a low oven while you cook the spinach.
5To cook the spinach, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together in a medium stainless steel bowl. Set over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the spinach, tossing to coat and just barely wilt the leaves, about 1 minute.
6To serve, arrange salsify on each of 4 warmed plates, place a mound of spinach on top and spoon some of the flageolets around the spinach. Top with the stuffed squid.
Chef's Tips
  • For a while there, I was really tired of squid. Over the last twenty years, I've prepared at least a zillion dishes of squid at both the Santa Fe Bar & Grill and Stars, and I swore when we opened Farallon that I didn't want to see any more tentacles. But gradually, this sneaky cephalopod began to make brief appearances on our menu. At first it was when Brad put some tempura-fried squid with my favorite black bean sauce on the lunch menu. Then, George made a grilled-squid and squid-ink risotto to go with the seared scallops for a dinner entree. Suddenly, without realizing it, I was starting to think about using squid again. The first dish I created after my squid sabbatical was this one. Squid bodies are like nature's little purses, perfect vehicles for stuffing and grilling is my preferred way of cooking them. If you too are feeling a little squid-weary, try this for an unusual and casual entree; it might be just the right antidote.
  • Stuffing squid tubes can be rather tedious, so a few words of advice: The larger squid bodies make for shorter work, although the smaller ones tend to be more tender and tasty. The stuffing mixture needs to be rather wet and pasty; a dry, crumbly mixture is difficult to put into the tubes. The quickest way to stuff them is with a pastry bag, but a small espresso spoon will work too. Fill them only about three-fourths full, since the squid will shrink. If you turn the tubes inside out first, they will naturally close up, eliminating the need for toothpick closures.
  • Small squid make great hors d'oeuvres, if you have the patience to stuff them (or if you have a pastry bag).
  • To make turning squid on the grill easier, thread the stuffed tubes onto skewers (with the bodies perpendicular to the skewer).
  • We love to use just barely wilted greens at Farallon, because texturally they are not quite raw but not mushy either and they have a quick "firing" time. It takes only a few seconds, and I mean one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two, one-thousand-and-three, to get the right degree of "wiltedness." We heat a stainless-steel bowl with the dressing in the bottom right over the gas flame, take it off, toss for 3 seconds, then serve. This also works with other greens like spinach, arugula, chopped cabbage or chard.
  • Try playing around with the stuffing: mushrooms, spinach, pine nuts and tomatoes are all ingredients that taste good with squid. Sometimes salsify or burdock can be difficult to find. If that is the case, you could omit this vegetable altogether or simply caramelize some sliced fennel or sliced yellow onions. Add balsamic vinegar to the spinach instead of lemon juice.
  • The ravigote stuffing can be made 24 hours ahead and the calamari can be stuffed 2 hours ahead and both stored in the refrigerator. The beans may be cooked up to 1 day in advance and reheated with the warm cream just prior to serving. The spinach should be cooked just before serving. The salsify or burdock can be held in the lemon water overnight, then cooked just before serving.
  • If you don't want to stuff the squid, cut open the bodies, lightly score them on both sides, and weave them onto skewers. Grill on both sides until just opaque. Make the stuffing without the bread crumbs and add a bit more olive oil to make it more like a sauce that you can drizzle over the grilled calamari.
  • Squid is fairly assertive in flavor and takes well to grilling. This dish includes rich flageolets and naturally sweet caramelized salsify, plus the green accent from the wilted spinach. A bottle of "New World" Chardonnay or a nutty, spicy, smoky Meursault is a shoo-in for a good white-wine match. Red wine might also be appropriate since the calamari is grilled and the stuffing is spicy. Good vintages for Italian Dolcetto are 1996, '97, and '98; this spicy, fruity, and zesty red might be good foil for this combination. A California Sangiovese or the even lighter-bodied Zinfandel is a good choice as well.

Mark Franz of Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco, CA.