Grilled calamari with dried black olives, chilli and almonds

Something magical happens when calamari and a barbecue meet up.
Something magical happens when calamari and a barbecue meet up. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Something magical happens when you barbecue calamari - the smell is so evocative it makes me immediately hungry. The trick is to cook it on a hot grill but not for too long, as it will toughen quickly. The dressing is so punchy and vibrant, full of spicy flavours but balanced with acidity and the lusciousness of the goat's curd, which all goes so well with the charred squid.


1 clove of garlic

flaked salt

1 lemon, half the zest and all the juice

30ml sherry vinegar

2 green chillies sliced in rings, seeds in

80ml virgin olive oil plus extra for grilling

120g dried salted black olives, pitted (about 80g pitted weight)

1.2kg whole calamari, once cleaned you should have about 650g of tubes, wings and tentacles (your fishmonger can do this for you or you can buy it cleaned)

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tspn ground cumin

8 tomatoes from this recipe (slow-roasted tomatoes with paprika and oregano)

100g goat's curd

2 sprigs of mint, picked

60g well-toasted blanched almonds, split in half


1. Preheat griddle pan to smoking hot or use the barbecue. To make the dressing, grate the clove of garlic on a Microplane into a medium bowl, add some salt, half the lemon zest, all the lemon juice, sherry vinegar, green chilli and oil and mix. Allow to sit for 5 minutes then tear the olives and add to the dressing, taste for balance.

2. Leaving the wings attached, cut the hoods of the calamari open by placing your knife inside and slicing open down one edge. Make score marks across the hood on the inside in repetitive lines all the way down. Skewer the hoods lengthways with metal skewers to keep the calamari flat while cooking.

3. Season with salt, pepper and cumin and coat with oil. Grill for 2 1/2 minutes each side and cook the tentacles also for about 5 minutes in total.

4. Once cooked, remove the skewers and slice the calamari, toss in a bowl with a little of the dressing. Transfer calamari to a serving plate, tear some tomatoes and scatter them over the calamari, dollop with the goat's curd, spoon more dressing and scatter torn mint leaves and almonds over.

Tip: It's worth seeking out dried olives, but you could use black olives instead.

Drink: Albarino.