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Archive for May 24th, 2010|Daily archive page

Brick Work

In Food, Recipes on May 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm

All day long my husband and I were fantasizing about this dish, a riff on a Mario Batali recipe from Italian Grill. And oh my god, was it worth the wait. We got squid and olive tapenade at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market first thing yesterday morning. Then, about midday I zested a lemon from our tree. If I had to, if I had to, pick a favorite fruit—aesthetically speaking, it would be the lemon.

While Mr. Foodinista cut up the calamari, I mixed together olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, mint, red pepper flakes and black pepper. We tossed the calamari in the mixture and let it marinate in the fridge.

The recipe follows, but a word first about the grilling method. The calamari is cooked on a piastra—which is Italian for cooking on a flat griddle over an open flame. We used our trusty Lodge Pro Cast Iron Griddle. To achieve a flavorful char, Mr Foodinista wrapped a couple bricks in tin foil (two layers). Oh, and he heated the HELL out of the grill, leaving the griddle and foil-wrapped bricks in there to heat up at a temp somewhere close to 500 degrees.

Somehow I didn’t take a picture of the chickpea salad prior to mixing it with the grilled calamari. Maybe because I was too busy EATING the chickepas. Holy scheisse—mix up the chickpea salad alone and have at it. With a spoon.

I’ve made a few very minor tweaks on this recipe because my experience w/ this cookbook has largely been: great idea, but did someone actually test the recipe as written? Batali’s flavor combinations are inspired – but having tried at least a dozen recipes, there’s either too much liquid or not enough protein, and the cooking times are almost always off. Here’s what worked for us:

Marinated Calamari with Chickpeas and Olive Pesto

Adapted from Italian Grill, by Mario Batali

Note: The original recipe calls for orange segments (from three oranges) to be tossed with final salad. There is more than enough happening with all the citrus in the marinade, so unless you are freaked out about scurvy, I’d skip it. I don’t include below (and nor does the photo in the cookbook).

Serves 4-6


3 lbs cleaned calamari (tubes and tentacles)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper


Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 scallions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 cup mustard seeds

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Olive Pesto

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1/2 cup black olive paste or tapenade

3 red jalapeños, deveined, seeded and finely chopped

12 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

CUT THE CALAMARI BODIES into rings. Combine olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, mint, red pepper flakes and black pepper in a large bowl. Toss in calamari and stir well to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until ready to use.

Put chickpeas in a medium bowl, and add oil, vinegar, scallions, garlic and mustard seeds and stir to mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

FOR THE OLIVE PESTO, combine oil, orange zest and juice, olive tapenade, jalapeños, and basil in a small bowl, mixing well. Set aside.

Preheat a gas grill for high heat. Place a piastra—or griddle—on grill to preheat. Wrap two clean bricks in two layers each of heavy-duty foil and set it on top of piastra to heat for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour calamari into a colander and drain for 10 minutes.

Using oven mitts, remove bricks from piastra. Put a couple handful of calamari pieces on the piastra, place bricks on top of them, and cook for 2 minutes (any longer will turn them rubbery). Lift off bricks and, using spatula, carefully transfer calamari to a clean bowl. Repeat with remaining calamari in batches.

Pour olive pesto over calamari and stir well. Put chickpeas in a shallow serving bowl and top with calamari. Sprinkle with fresh mint and serve.