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.
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.