Rich’s Signature Calamari Salad

It’s a test. Well, really it was a challenge for Rich and me. When a new employee comes on board, how long would it take us to convince them to love foods that might make them squirm. Calamari Salad was one of those dishes. So many folks have a bad experience with fishy and/or chewy calamari. Combine that with the tentacles for some it’s just a no go.


But Calamari Salad is dearly loved by many. We’d often suggest it as a meal for kids. Perfectly poached calamari with crunchy red onions, briny kalamata olives, rich with extra virgin olive oil, bright parsley it’s just yummy. It’s great on its own as an appetizer or makes a delicious lunch on top of a salad with some crusty bread.


Finding calamari can be a challenge. You want to use Atlantic Calamari, it has thicker walls than Pacific Calamari. We found frozen Town Dock calamari on Portland trip, but occasionally supermarkets in the area will carry it. Sometimes fresh calamari will show up in fishmarkets in the summer when they can net them off the coast of Maine. I suggest asking your favorite fish purveyor to order you some.


Start by putting a good size pot of heavily salted water to boil on the stove. About three quarts of water and a third of a cup of salt. Don’t worry, you won’t be oversalting your calamari, you’re just keeping the salt levels balanced.


Slice the calamari bodies into rings.


Our calamari is fairly small, but if you have large tentacles (beyond bite size) you can tear them in half where the legs join together.

calamarimisePrepare the rest of your ingredients. Chop your onion, we used about half of a large red onion, in fine dice. Chop your parsley, about half a cup. Always use flat leaf Italian parsley for proper flavor. Slice your kalamata olives into rings, half a cup. Finely chop garlic.


Our garlic cloves were big (as big as Rich’s thumb) so we only used one clove. Mince the garlic finely so that you don’t bite into a big chunk of garlic.

Your water should be at a rapid boil about now. Prepare an ice water bath to shock your calamari when it’s done cooking. Add the calamari to the boiling water and give it a quick stir.

Cooking calamari is a delicate task. As Rich’s Grandma Amalia would say, you either cook calamari high heat for a short time or low heat for a long time. Calamari salad uses the high heat, short cook method.


After you put the calamari into the pot, cover the pot, bring it back to a boil. The calamari should be done in about a minute. As you can see above, the calamari ring will hold it’s shape when done, is no longer translucent, and has a dull finish.


Drain your calamari.


And plunge your calamari into the prepared ice bath to stop the cooking.


Once chilled, drain the calamari and combine in a bowl with olives, parsley, onion, and garlic.


Add the red wine vinegar…


…add the extra virgin olive oil,


and stir to combine.


Taste for seasoning. Here Rich is adding a little more olive oil, plus salt and pepper to his taste. Your salad is ready to serve, giving it an hour or so in the refrigerator will help marry the flavors. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.


Chanelle clowns around with Calamari Salad.


Rich's Signature Calamari Salad
Recipe type: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2-4
  • 1 lb Atlantic Calamari
  • ⅓ cup Kosher Salt (for boiling water)
  • 1-2 cloves Garlic Minced
  • ½ cup Red Onion, Chopped
  • ½ cup Kalamata Olives, Sliced
  • ½ cup Italian Parsley Chopped
  • 6 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 oz Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Boil 3 quarts water with ⅓ cup salt.
  2. Cut Calamari bodies into rings and split tentacles, if necessary.
  3. Prepare an ice water bath to shock cooked calamari.
  4. When water is at a rapid boil add calamari and stir.
  5. Cover pot and bring back to a boil.
  6. After coming back to boil, cook one more minute.
  7. Drain calamari and plunge into ice water bath. Stir and allow to cool.
  8. Combine cooled & drained calamari with olives, onions, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.
  9. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning.
  10. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
  11. You may choose to refrigerate for about an hour to allow the flavors to marry.
  12. Serve as an appetizer as is or over a bed of salad greens as a light meal.



Cary Hanson

About Cary Hanson

My husband and I didn't have children, we had a restaurant. For twelve and a half years we poured body and soul into Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro. We worked closely with local farmers, fishermen, and food artisans, doing our best to support our local community. We made great friends, beautiful food, and had a lot of fun. As Rich and I rediscover ourselves as our own beings outside of the all-consuming restaurant we have time to share our recipes and reminisce about Cleonice.