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Calamari And Shrimp Salad With Bay Leaf

Calamari And Shrimp Salad With Bay Leaf
Domenica Marchetti for NPR

Insalata di calamari (calamari salad) is a staple in towns dotting the Adriatic and Mediterranean coasts of Italy. I add shrimp to the mix simply because I like the combination. This salad makes a lovely antipasto for a casual dinner party. It needs time for chilling. This recipe is adapted from my book Big Night In (Chronicle Books 2008).

Makes 6 to 8 appetizer servings

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 pounds cleaned calamari, both sacs and tentacles, sacs cut into 1/2-inch-wide rings and tentacle crowns cut in half lengthwise to yield bite-sized pieces (for dramatic effect, leave smaller crowns whole)

Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

1 clove garlic, passed through a garlic press

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Generous pinch red pepper flakes

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 small fresh bay leaves, or 2 dried

Bring a small quantity of water to a boil in a large pot fitted with a steaming basket and placed over high heat. Add the shrimp to the steaming basket and cover the pot. Steam for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp are just cooked through (they should be pink and opaque). Remove the pot from the heat and with a slotted spoon or tongs remove the shrimp from the steaming basket and place them in a large bowl.

Carefully remove the steaming basket from the pot and fill the pot with water. Return the pot to the stove and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the calamari and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are opaque but still very tender (check by tasting a small ring).

Turn off the heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the calamari to the bowl containing the shrimp.

In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, parsley, garlic, vinegar, salt, mustard and red pepper flakes. Slowly whisk in the oil until the mixture is thoroughly combined (start with 1/3 cup and add more if necessary to balance the acidity of the lemon juice and vinegar).

Pour the dressing over the calamari and shrimp and add the sliced red onion. Toss well to combine everything. Tuck in the bay leaves and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled.

Serve the salad cold, spooned over large butter lettuce leaves, if you like, accompanied by slices of grilled country bread.

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