Calamari with lemon, garlic and Ceylon spinach

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 people

  • 1 kg calamari
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Finely grated rind of 3 lemons, 60ml (¼ cup) lemon juice, plus lemon cheeks to serve
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • For dusting: plain flour, seasoned
  • 500 gm Ceylon spinach (see note)
  • 2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
01   Pull tentacles from body of calamari (reserve tentacles), carefully remove ink sac from innards (discard innards) and set aside. Clean and halve calamari, leaving wings and skin on. Thickly slice calamari and tentacles and refrigerate until required.
02   Squeeze ink from ink sacs into a small bowl, add extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tsp lemon juice, season to taste, whisk to combine and set aside.
03   Pound garlic with a little sea salt in a mortar and pestle and set aside.
04   Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Dust half the calamari in seasoned flour, shake off excess, then fry, turning occasionally, until golden (5-6 minutes) and drain on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining oil and calamari. Season calamari with lemon rind, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.
05   Meanwhile, separate spinach leaves from stems and cut stems into bite-sized pieces. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a wide saucepan over high heat, add spinach leaves and stems and fennel, stir occasionally until just wilted (2-3 minutes), add garlic mixture and remaining lemon juice and keep warm.
06   Drizzle ink dressing onto plates, top with spinach mixture and calamari and serve with lemon cheeks.
Note Ceylon spinach, also known as Malabar spinach, is available from Asian grocers; if it’s unavailable, substitute spinach or purslane.

This recipe is from the March 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
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