Grilled Monterey Calamari with Shelling Beans, Arugula, and Salsa Romesco

Source: Pam Mazzola, Prospect

Recipe Type: | Seasons:

This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on October 6, 2012.

Monterey squid is one of the oldest California fisheries. In a good year, fresh squid is available all 12 months. There are only two ways to cook squid with any success. We adhere to a “3-minute or 3-hour” rule, meaning that you should cook squid either very quickly at a high heat or very slowly for a long time over low heat.
Serves 4 to 6


16 squid
1 bunch arugula

Shelling Beans
1 cup fresh cannellini or butter beans
1 cup fresh cranberry or borlotti beans
½ cup shelled fava beans
1 carrot, halved lengthwise and cut cross-wise
1 small onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
2 cloves garlic, plus ½ teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons finely diced shallot
½ cup peppers cut into rings
1 teaspoon chopped fresh seasonal herbs (such as parsley, basil, or thyme)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Early Girl Tomato Sauce
2 pounds Early Girl tomatoes
1 teaspoon grated fresh garlic
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon julienned basil

Salsa Romesco
5 red peppers
¾ ounce hazelnuts (about 22)
¾ ounce almonds (about 18)
6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
½ ounce bread (about 3 thin slices from a baguette)
2½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 small cloves garlic, minced or grated
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


1.    Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2.    To clean the squid, holding the squid body in one hand and the head with the other, gently pull the head away from and out of the body, taking the white insides with it. Cut off the tentacles from the head just in front of the eyes, reserving them. Squeeze out and discard the hard beak (mouth) from the center of the tentacles.

3.    To cook the shelling beans, put each variety of beans in a small pot and cover with water. Divide the carrots, onion, bay leaf, thyme, and 2 garlic cloves between the two pots. Bring the pots to a low boil and then simmer until the beans are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each pot and allow the beans to cook. Remove the aromatics from pot and let the beans cool in their liquid.

4.    Heat a sauté pan to medium, add the shallots, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, and peppers. Sauté until soft. Add the shelling beans with ¼ of the reserved bean water. Warm, add the herbs, and add olive oil.

5.    To make the tomato sauce, cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out seed. Grate the flesh side on the largest side of a box grater. Heat a medium sauté pan to high, add one tablespoon of olive oil. Toss in the garlic and grated tomatoes and cook on high for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the olive oil.
6.    To make the salsa romesco, prepare a hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill or preheat a grill pan or heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Place the peppers on the grill and cook them, turning occasionally, until they are blackened on all sides and the flesh is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can cook the peppers over the direct flame of a gas stove.) Place the peppers in a plastic bag or a large bowl. Close the bag or seal the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set the peppers aside to steam until they are cool enough to handle. Using a clean kitchen towel, remove the charred skin from the peppers and discard. Remove and discard the cores and seeds. (The peppers can be prepared to this point up to 3 days in advance. Refrigerate the peppers in an airtight container and drain the liquid released from the peppers before using them.)

7.    Spread the hazelnuts and almonds on a baking sheet in two separate piles and place them in the oven to toast until golden brown and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally so the nuts brown evenly. Remove the nuts from the oven and set them aside until they are cool enough to touch. Gather the hazelnuts into a clean dishtowel and rub them together to remove the skins.

8.    Warm 3 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the bread slices and fry them until they are lightly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the bread to a paper towel to drain.

9.    Combine the hazelnuts and almonds in the bowl of a food processor or the jar of a blender and pulse until the nuts are finely ground and start to coat the sides of the bowl, but not so long that they turn into a paste. Add the fried bread and pulse until it is finely ground. Add the peppers and purée to form a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally. With the machine running, add the vinegar, salt, fresh garlic, and cayenne and continue to purée until the sauce is very smooth. With the food processor still running, add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify the romesco. Add more olive oil if necessary to form the consistency of a thick, almost spoonable sauce.

10.    To cook the squid, heat a pan on high heat. Add the squid bodies and tentacles. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and sear for one minute. Shake the pan and cook for an additional minute. Remove the squids from the pan.

11.    To assemble, place a circle of the tomato sauce on a plate and spoon the warm beans in the center. Place four squid tentacles on top with a dollop of romesco sauce and a few leaves of arugula.

Farmers Market Ingredients