Saturday, 9 July 2011

Watermelon and Squid Salad

I have a pretty limited knowledge of Persian food – I’ve only had it a few times at a restaurant called Reza’s in Chicago, where I had heavy stews each time.  They were really good, but pretty standard meat/vegetable concoctions. 

Then I saw an article about a Persian chef who makes light and healthy Persian food in June’s issue of Food and Wine.   I was interested in learning about a side of Persian food I wasn’t familiar with, and when I saw that the article included a watermelon and squid salad recipe, I immediately tore it out and put the ingredients on my grocery list.  Not only do I have a soft spot for savory watermelon recipes, but the the combination of watermelon and squid just sounds so fun.

Grilling the squid was an adventure.  It’s important to get your grill really, really hot before you put the squid on, because you want to get char marks and have some smoky flavor on your squid, but you don’t want to leave it on the grill too long or it will get rubbery.  I balanced each little tentacle on the grill grates very carefully so it wouldn’t fall through (no casualties, phew!), but if you have a pan that’s made for using on the grill with odd-shaped items, that seems like a much easier way to do it.

This salad is perfect for dinner on a hot summer night.  The dressing on this salad is a little bit tart and a little bit spicy, and perfect for the sweet watermelon.  I could even imagine using the dressing on a green salad with watermelon cubes or on watermelon alone – it was SO good.  The original version of this recipe calls for it to be sprinkled with sumac at the end, which I didn’t have on hand, but if you can get some, the dark red color would look great sprinkled on top.

Watermelon and Squid Salad

Adapted from Food and Wine/Hoss Zare
Print version here
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalepeno, minced (leave seeds out for milder dressing)
  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound squid, bodies and tentacles separated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • About 3 pounds of watermelon, cut into small wedges (about ½ inch thick and 4 inches tall)
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  1.  Whisk the vinegars, green onions, jalapeno, half the lime zest, and half the lime juice in a small bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  2. Heat your grill.  In a medium bowl, toss the squid with the olive oil, crushed red pepper, and remaining lime juice and zest.  When the grill gets very hot, grill the squid over the hottest part of the grill until lightly charred, about 4 minutes.  Slice the squid bodies into thin rings.
  3. Arrange the watermelon on a platter, cover with the squid, and drizzle with the dressing.  Garnish with the chopped mint and serve.

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