« Recipe for puff pastry tartlets with zucchini and slow-roasted (or sun-dried) tomato filling | Main | Market to Pantry #20: Pekanbaru Market, Sumatra, Indonesia »

Calamari, vegetable and whole wheat orzo salad recipe


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

From the pantry, you'll need: whole wheat or regular orzo, bay leaf, dried oregano, sherry vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, Dijon mustard.

Serves 4.


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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Cold curried orzo
Salmon chipotle chowder with orzo and corn
Curried orzo chicken salad
Bread salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette
Tortellini and shrimp salad

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

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


That looks wonderful!! I have been craving squid like crazy lately but I haven't been able to get it at seafood counters that I frequent. They say it's seasonal; I say it's year-round! :)

I've never made calamari myself. I adore it when it is GOOD and served at a restaurant. I am shocked that the cooking time is so precise (and FAR apart!). I bet that's been the problem with many places where I have tried eating it. Thanks for the great info. I'm inspired to try it now!

Intriguing -- love the pop up about how long to cook calamari

Jenn, my fishmonger sells frozen cleaned squid bodies in packages of 1 pound or more. I take what I need and keep the rest in the freezer. Ask at your fish market.

Barefeet, don't be hesitant to make it at home. It's so much more delicate than what you get in restaurants, though I have to admit that fried calamari, when cooked properly (i.e., quickly), is truly delicious.

Mary, thanks -- I'm so glad that's helpful info.

I miss this calamari! My grand mother used to make this one for me when I was a kid. Very tasty and love the flavor. I want to taste it again so definitely I'm going to try this later, all I need to do is to gather all the ingredients! Excited!

ive been scared of squid for so long, iu dont even know where to buy it! would an asian market be preferable, you think? there are a few italian places in my new neighborhood, but i think they are just butchers

Kaycee, have fun with this.

Erin, an Asian market with a good fish department might be a good bet (but it will be in the frozen section). Ditto an Italian market. If the Italian market doesn't have it, they'll know where to get it. In either case, buy squid already cleaned and trimmed, so all you have to do is slice the tubes into rings. Or, you can stuff the tubes and bake them in a tomato sauce.

Do you know the old joke about the gentrifying and ethnically changing neighborhood in New York where 1/3 of the residents called it calamari, 1/3 called it squid, and 1/3 called it bait?

Sounds like a good recipe, but I rarely see squid here in the midwest.

Mae, I'm giggling (new joke to me!). I know calamari is very easy to find here in the Northeast, because of the large Italian and Portuguese populations here. Maybe a fish market will have frozen squid?

I've seen calamari salad in the deli sections sometimes, but never in a pasta salad - nice idea, and certainly healthier than the traditional fried calamari that is so popular on menus.

Thank you so much for honoring my strawberry bacon orzo salad with all these fantastic salads. As I was reading your post and seeing the photo of your salad I was mentally figuring out what I need to buy and what I may have so I can make this immediately!

Jeanette, fried calamari is so popular here, and there's no denying it's delicious, but it's not something I want to eat very often. These delicate calamari, with a light dressing, are healthy and easier to prepare.

Maris, you can certainly substitute other shellfish for the calamari if you can't find it at your local fish market. Shrimp or scallops, or mussels, would be delicious, too.

Ooh, that looks delicious. Perfect for hot weather :)

Heidi, it is!

ive been afraid of squid for such a extensive time, iu never even know where to buy it! would an oriental industry be better, you think? there are a few italian language locations in my new community, but i think they are just butchers

The comments to this entry are closed.