mains, salads

grilled squid with garlicky white beans and vinegared tomatoes.

grilled squid with garlicky white beans and vinegar tomatoes. | a periodic table

I’m sitting here, and allegedly it’s mid-March, and I’m gazing out over a confectioner’s sugar-dusting of snow on my lawn. I don’t hate it, but it does cause some obvious seasonal confusion. You see, we’ve had temperatures climbing near 75 and sunny in recent weeks; when that happens, your body naturally begins to acclimate itself to warmer days ahead. Weather like this gets things all twisted up.

Daylight savings time nonsense doesn’t help things, either: am I the only one who notices no real change when we “Fall Back,” yet when we “Spring Forward” it just feels like a cruel human experiment in sleep deprivation? If the losing of an hour now makes me feel like I got run over by a truck, why doesn’t the gaining of an hour in the autumn make me feel double refreshed? I made dinner at like 9 pm last night, simply because I had zero idea what real time it was.

It’s no surprise that I made this exceedingly summery dish right now: I have no idea what time or season it is, clearly. And I don’t feel at all bad about this, either, because this calamari / tomato / garlic bean situation is perfect, peak tomato season or no. Often, I wait until things are really in season, but not this time; I saw halfway decent tomatoes and I don’t remember anything after that. What can I say? Sometimes you just want things.

grilled squid with garlicky white beans and vinegar tomatoes. | a periodic table


This is another gem from the Alison Roman cookbook I’ve been wandering through recently, and it’s two recipes in one: just make the garlicky beans and eat them, or throw them in this salad-type thing. People forget that charred squid > fried any day of the week, and it’s also way less messy. And the tomatoes? You do nothing  but throw some vinegar on those and they’re ready to go.

I confess: I did some tweaking here, but mostly to the beans. It’s compulsion, really – when you tell me to melt some garlic into a bunch of butter or fat or olive oil, I’m all in, but with one addition: anchovies. I can’t think of anything better than channeling the flavors of a bagna cauda through a dish bursting with tomatoes and squid, so I went ahead and did it here. I think you’ll love the result, especially if you’re as into them as I am. If you’re new to anchovies, I’ll say this: there are two types of anchovy lovers – the ones who actually just eat them or throw them on pizza, and the type that appreciates them inside things like caesar dressing and other sauces. I’m the latter, and I promise you, when you melt them into other things, they transform into silky, salty gorgeousness.

So go ahead: live out of season for a minute until we get an actual onset of permanent warm weather, or save this one for when that day comes. Adapted from Dining In by Alison Roman.

Grilled Squid with Spicy, Garlicky White Beans and Vinegared Tomatoes

Serves | 4 |

for the beans:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 oz tinned anchovies, drained of oil and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chile flake
  • 3/4 tsp whole fennel seed, ground with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 1 15-oz can cannellini, navy or gigante beans, drained and rinsed

for the salad:

  • 1 lb cleaned squid bodies and tentacles*
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb heirloom tomatoes (or hey, whatever tomatoes you like), sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 recipe Garlicky White Beans (from above)

| Notes | Squid isn’t as hard to find as you may think: sometimes you just have to look for it. Finding it at larger grocery stores (especially – and obviously – the ones with a good variety of fresh and frozen seafood offerings) or international markets is a good bet. Tentacle size may vary: if they’re small and you’re using an open grate grill, you may want to run a skewer through them to keep them from falling to their doom. 

| Preparation – garlicky white beans | Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic,anchovies, chile flake and fennel seed and simmer, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Add beans and fold into oil mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring back to sizzling a bit over medium heat, then reduce to low and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the beans cook, prep your salad.

| Preparation – squid, tomato + bean salad | Toss squid in a bowl (leave the tubes as one big thing until after you grill) and season with salt and pepper. Heat grill or a grill pan to high, brush with a little oil as necessary, and place squid on grates. Cook, turning the pieces occasionally until it’s lightly charred all over, with nice color, about 5 minutes.

| To Serve | Transfer squid tubes to cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch wide rings. Leave tentacles as/is unless there are larger ones, which you can cut in half. Lay tomatoes on a big platter and pour vinegar over top; season with salt and pepper and arrange beans and squid over tomatoes; drizzle with olive oil and serve warm.

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  • Reply Ashley March 12, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Falling to their doom!!!! = amazing!

    I’m all confused about the seasons too (thanks, Ohio weather). I swear 1-2 days of warm, sunny weather instantly adjusts my body to “summer is coming” mode….making cold weather feel colder and more painful than ever (even if it isn’t the actual coldest temps we’ve experienced this year). At least there’s some sunshine! I hate grey, rainy skies.

    Hope all is wonderfully well!!!

    • Reply shannon March 14, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Ashley, it’s terrible: Ohio weather for the most part mirrors ours (you are slightly colder during the winter), and one or two days of warmth after a cold winter really tricks you into thinking it’ll last. Which is weird, because has it ever? Nope. And yet we remain tricked. *eye roll* wishful thinking, i suppose.

      All is wonderfully well, yes girl! I hope you and Eric are equally wonderful.

  • Reply John / Kitchen Riffs March 13, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Even though we’ve had some warm days teasing us, I’m still more in cold weather mode. Because I know how fickle weather can be! And the snow just proved it. I’m with you on the time change. In the fall, it takes like 45 seconds for me to adjust to the new time. Spring time change? More like 45 days. Ugh — really don’t like it. Wish they’d just stick to one time throughout the year. Anyway, lovely dish. Anchovies are kind of a secret ingredient — add such depth of flavor. I make garlicky green beans all the time, but havn’t added anchovies. But I will!

    • Reply shannon March 14, 2018 at 10:45 am

      the weather IS fickle around here! especially this time of year, it seems.

      i think if they put it to a vote, Daylight Savings Time would be no more: we’re on day 4 here of dragging ourselves out of bed in the morning, so hopefully you’re almost recovered. 🙂

      you have to love anchovies for exactly that: they’re a secret ingredient that works wonders on so many dishes! And people just initially “pooh-pooh” them, and they really shouldn’t. garlicky green beans sounds phenomenal: i may test out some anchovies in my own next time as well! Thanks John.

  • Reply elizabeth March 21, 2018 at 6:54 am

    While we’ve largely been lucky on the nor’easter front this winter, the Baltimore-DC area is finally getting hit with some nasty weather all day today and it’s really, really irritating to me as we should be closer to the 50s and 60s rather than the 30s. Our normal market carries frozen squid and now I’m going to have to make these recipes too.

    I like anchovies as-is, but one thing I like to keep in our fridge is a tube of anchovy paste because it makes it really easy to add it to a dish without having to open a whole tin that you then have to figure out what to do with the rest.

    While I definitely felt the change in DST this year, I have to say that I still love it–I love having the light later in the day, especially on days like today when it’s gross and wintry out even though Spring started yesterday.

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