“Griddled Squid, Herb Salad and Black Olive Dressing” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Anna: This is really quite delicious! I have failed so spectacularly with squid recently but this is a big success in my book. Was it filling enough for you?

Peter: Yes it was. And the chilli was quite warm.

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Anna: It reminds me of the River Café griddled squid recipe I used to do in the last decade as a starter. You know, the one with rocket and the chilli dressing. But this is a slightly beefed up version, with the olives and herbs. I think it’s suggested as a starter here, but I added the rocket to make it more of a salad.

Peter: I would definitely have it again.

Anna: Oh good. So would I. Healthy, virtuous and punchy. Perfect.

“Griddled Squid, Herb Salad and Black Olive Dressing” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Hot Chilli-Ginger Stir-fried Squid” from “A Change of Appetite”

Anna: Meh. I had such high hopes for this and I am disappointed. I’m sure if a personal chef had made it for me I would love it.

Peter: It wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be.

Anna: That’s the chilli’s fault. I could have left the seeds in and probably should have done.

Peter: Did the squid need marinating?

Anna: Why do you say that?

Peter: It was a bit dry I guess…..

Anna: Couldn’t you taste the lemongrass?

Peter: Yes. And I got the salty and sour. I’m not sure what it is that’s missing.

Anna: A professional chef. This would be perfect in a Thai restaurant. Somehow it hasn’t worked for me at home. It’s perfectly ok. And it was easy to cook. But I won’t be doing it again.






“Hot Chilli-Ginger Stir-fried Squid” from “A Change of Appetite”

“Squid and Prawns with Chilli and Marjoram” from “Nigellissima”

If you would like to try this recipe for yourself click here.

Anna: Nigella suggests you serve this with black ‘venere’ Italian rice. I remember she had a previous recipe that called for this rice, maybe in Kitchen, I’m not sure. And I couldln’t find it anywhere. Until I stumbled on it in an hypermarch in France and bought 3 boxes. The problem is, as I recall now, I don’t actually like it that much.

Peter: Why is it black? Does it have squid ink in it?

Anna: No, I just think it’s black rice. So it’s probably very good for you. It makes the dish look very dramatic, which is the point I think.

Peter: It tastes ok to me. It compliments the seafood. I don’t think basmati would be the same.

Anna: It certainly has more bite than normal rice. But what we should discussing is the fish. What do think?

Peter: It was quite a small portion for me. Maybe it could be bulked up with some other fish?

Anna: It would be easy to do more squid and that’s always filling. It was definitely very light and I always like the combination of chilli, garlic and lemon. You can’t go wrong really. But this recipe is not rocking my world.

Peter: Another underwhelming recipe from Nigella?

Anna: It’s perfectly fine, and maybe it’s the rice that’s putting me off. She suggests serving it with pasta too which I think would work better.

“Squid and Prawns with Chilli and Marjoram” from “Nigellissima”

“Squid Spaghetti” from “Nigellissima”

Peter: Another fishy pasta! Are we on the fishy pasta chapter or does she do other things?

Anna: Surely it’s better than ‘tin of beans’ month?

Peter: I’m not saying I mind a fishy pasta.

Anna: That’s good, because we’re having more fishy pasta this weekend! Do you like this?

Peter: Yes. Another way with squid. It wasn’t chewy. It was very tender.

Anna: Nigella’s way with the squid in this recipe is genius. You just stir it through the sauce at the end to warm through. It beats having to fry the squid seperately, which is usually required, risking it toughening. Plus it’s a stage that can be quite time-consuming. This definitely works.

Peter: Well I’m up for having this again. Time for a trip to the seaside to get some fresh squid!

“Squid Spaghetti” from “Nigellissima”

“Spiced Calamari and Chickpeas” from “Easy”

Peter: Wow. That’s a big pile of chickpeas. Would you like to inflate this hot air balloon?

Anna: You don’t chickpeas as an excuse. It’s not just chickpeas anyway. There’s a very large amount of squid here too.

Peter: Yes, I like this. I see we have another Asian-type recipe from Bill. It looks Asian. It’s on a lettuce leaf.

Anna: Actually it has ras el hanout and preserved lemons in it. So it’s more North African than Asian really.

Peter: I guess that would explain the chickpeas. But not the squid. Is it a fusion?

Anna: I suppose so, yes. Did you actually like it?

Peter: Yes. It was light but wholesome.

Anna: I think this is a very interesting way to do squid. And I’m always looking for new ways to do squid.

Peter: But was it “easy”?

Anna: Yes it was. First recipe a success!

“Spiced Calamari and Chickpeas” from “Easy”

“Squid with greens and basil” from “Tender Volume I”

Peter: I thought this dish tasted of Thailand.

Anna: In a good way?

Peter: Well, I don’t think there’s any bad Thai flavours.

Anna: Unlike Nigel, we didn’t grow the choi sum in our garden.  We foraged it at See Woo.

Peter: I’m disappointed we didn’t get some frozen chicken feet while we were there.

Anna: You helped with the chopping tonight which made preparing this very easy indeed.  It’s proper quick too, once the greens have been blanched which adds a step I might not have otherwise taken. We didn’t have any rice because I thought the volume of greens and squid would be filling enough.

Peter: I agree, it was fairly substantial in its own right.  We put some extra tenderstem broccoli in as well so that helped.

Anna: Would you like rice next time?

Peter: You know, I think I can cope without.

Anna: I may well add this to my squid recipe repetoire.  As long as going to the local Chinese cash and carry features in that week’s shop. You win some, you lose some with Nigel…….

“Squid with greens and basil” from “Tender Volume I”

“Quick calamari pasta” from “Kitchen”

Anna: I would say that this is incredibly quick and easy to cook, but procuring the elusive “i calamari” pasta was not.  In fact I failed.

Peter: The pasta you’ve used looks quite like fat squid rings though.  I liked it.

Anna: It’s Nigella’s fall-back option, mezzi rigatoni.  But even this I had to buy in an Italian deli in Soho.  I may not have time for all this protracted ingredient-hunting soon.  Maybe Sainsbums will start to stock it now that Nigella has it as a star ingredient in her book.  Along with the liqueurs for the Grasshopper pie.

Peter: Waitrose, surely?

Anna: This was like an economy-version of crab pasta, as it had a lot of the same clean flavours with the chilli and garlic and spring onion.

Peter: I thought it was very tastey.  It looked a bit plain but tasted richer than I expected.

Anna: That was the butter.  Which was fine in this instance as squid has no calories.  Virtually.  I liked it too.  For the first 5 minutes or so.

Peter: It went cold quite quickly.

Anna: It did.  So then the pasta felt a bit heavy to me.

Peter: I didn’t think so.

Anna: I don’t mind though, as I’ll cook less pasta next time.  That’s not a bad thing.

Peter: It reminded me of Bill’s squid and chorizo pasta, but I expect this is healthier.

Anna: It is.  And simpler by virtue of having less ingredients.  I’ll make it again while we have the pasta shapes left, but don’t think I’ll be trawling through Soho again specifically for this recipe.

“Quick calamari pasta” from “Kitchen”