Italian might not be the only language of love, but it's the language of squid lovers, so I call this dish calamari, vegetable and whole wheat orzo salad rather than squid salad. Calamari and squid are the same thing, but one sounds seductively delicious and the other sounds... well, like a chore, which it is not. In fact, my fish market sells squid bodies already cleaned and trimmed; all I need to do is slice them into rings. I asked the fishmonger for cooking advice. He suggested a quick 90-second dunk in boiling water, or at least 30 minutes baked or braised in a sauce. Anything between 90 seconds and 30 minutes gives you rubber bands instead of delicate calamari. The traditional way to eat calamari here in Rhode Island involves battering and frying the rings, then serving them with hot pickled peppers. This salad takes a kinder, gentler approach, with an Italian-inspired vinaigrette.
Calamari, vegetable and whole wheat orzo salad
1 cup whole wheat orzo
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 lb squid, bodies cleaned, tubes cut into rings
3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch each of kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 medium tomato, diced
1 small Persian cucumber, or 1/4 of a large English seedless cucumber, diced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a saucepan. When the water boils, add the orzo, and cook for 6 minutes. Drain, rinse under cool water, and drain again. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
In the same saucepan, add 1 quart of water, plus the bay leaf, fresh thyme, and oregano. Bring to the boil. Drop the squid rings into the water and cook for 1-1/2 minutes, and not a second more! Immediately remove the squid from the water, and rinse under cold water. Drain, dry, and add to the orzo.
In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Shake to emulsify the dressing, and pour half of it over the orzo and squid. Stir well to coat all of the pasta with the dressing; the warm dressing will absorb into the pasta. Add remaining ingredients, plus as much dressing as needed. Season with more black pepper. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Whole wheat orzo and grilled vegetable salad with feta, olives, and herbs, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Whole wheat orzo with mushrooms and baby spinach, from Kahakai Kitchen
Orzo super salad, from 101 Cookbooks
Whole wheat orzo and lentil salad with orange dressing, from Enlightened Cooking
Warm strawberry bacon orzo salad, from In Good Taste
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