Mediterranean Salad with Squid, Feta, and Olives

Before we even begin I need to give a HUGE disclaimer… this is done “sous vide” using a Joule by Chef Steps. You can cook the squid other ways for this salad if you don’t have the ability to sous vide it but the recipe was written using this particular technique.

Squid is one of those things you love our hate. I don’t know many people in the middle on this. What’s funny is that I understand the strong visceral reaction many have. I clearly remember as a young boy spending the night at my best friends house and that night squid was served for dinner. I was grossed out. I wanted nothing to do with it. However, with it being the only thing offered and everyone enjoying it including my best friend I tried it and saw it wasn’t so bad. Over the years as I grew up and my pallet rounded out I fell in love with this treat.

Many years ago I was dining at a waterfront restaurant in Seattle, Washington and ordered their squid dish. What intrigued me was that the squid was described as being grilled and not fried! The presentation was excellent and the over all experience was fresh and delicious. I was so taken with it not being a heavy fried thing with a creamy dipping sauce. This got me past needing it disguised and made me crave it in it’s truest forms possible.

Just ahead many more years to living in Iowa I stumbled across a recipe in Tyler Florence’s Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time for The Ultimate Greek Salad with Grilled Calamari. I liked it. I liked a lot but the dressing was too much and the volume of the individual flavors was too much. Jump forward to yesterday and take into account everything I have been learning in the kitchen and what I ended up doing was recreating the recipe for how I like to eat, with the size portions I like to eat and with my newest kitchen gadget, Joule, my means of cooking sous vide.

You may be wondering why I opted for sous vide when it came to squid. The issue is whether I fried it or grilled it the squid always had a bit more chew than I would like. The idea of sous vide is to keep the integrity and the quality of the ingredients without the effects of extreme heat. One of the big issues with squid is if it hits high heat you have to be super quick in getting it off or the muscle fibers will cease up too much and become tough. The ingenuity of sous vide is that it’s slow-low temperature cooking. You can do in any vessel. Simply stick in the cylinder (Joule) into the vessel with water and set the temperature. The device cycles the water through the bottom and out the hole in the side heating it and maintaining the waters temperature. This action also keep the water moving allowing it to circulate around the food. For squid I think this is ideal as it allows for it to fully cook but not cause the muscles to cease too much.

I am still messing around with the time and temp but this did work for the dinner I just did. The bodies or “tubes” did come out a little chewier than I would like but with this salad it actually works offering another texture to all the elements in the salad. What worked really well were the tentacle pieces. They didn’t shrivel up and their texture was perfect! A little more experimenting and this recipe will be a keeper!

FOR THE SQUID:

  • 2 pounds Squid, bodies and tentacles
  • 4 fl ounces Grapeseed Oil
  • 4 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Fresh Oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • Juice of ½ a Lemon
  • Corse Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 1 -2 heads Romaine Lettuce, torn into pieces (62 grams each)
  • 1 English Cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 40 Cherry Tomatoes, about a pint, halved (5 each)
  • ½ Red Onion, thinly sliced (22 grams each)
  • Pitted Kalamata Olives (10 each)
  • 8 ounces Feta Cheese, crumbled (62 grams each)

FOR FINISHING:

  • 30 grams Sherry Vinegar
  • 90 grams Grapeseed Oil (of Olive Oil)
  • 1 Lemon, cut into 8 wedges

Directions:

Start with preparing the marinade. Cut the squid into thick rings. If the tentacles are large cut them in half. Rinse with cold water in a colander and pat dry. In a large bowl add the cleaned squid, oil, garlic, and herbs. Toss well. Let marinate for 2 hours in the fridge.

Set up the Sous Vide. Using a stock pot or deep bin add water, attach Joule, ensure there is enough water to circulate (covering the water outlet) and set temperature to 59ºC/138.2ºF. Once the water is at temperature add the bags of squid and clip to the rim with “binder clips. Set the timer for 1 ½ hours.

At the end of the 1 ½ hours check the texture of a ring and a tentacle. If you are happy with them turn off the Joule and remove the second bag. If they need a little more time put the bag back in and add another 30 minutes.

Once the squid is done cooking set up a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the contents of the bags out, straining all the liquid but retaining all the squid, garlic, and herbs. Dump the liquid the pour out the squid contents into the bowl, squeeze the juice of half a lemon over and season with salt and pepper. Toss well. Set aside.

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Set up your eight containers. Start with the romaine. Give it a quick chop and add 62 grams to each container. (It may be a little more or a little less. Chop all your romaine, throw it into a bowl on a scale and divide your total weight by eight.)

Next slice up your cucumber about a ¼ inch thick slices. count the slices and divide them equally among the containers. I usually get about 30 slices per cucumber. I then stack the slices flat and quarter them. Add them pieces to each container.

For the tomatoes I like cherry tomatoes for this salad. Just slice them in half and add five per salad. Again this is all whatever works feel free to add however many you would like.

I am not a huge fan of raw onion but this salad it really works. The key is nice thin slices and not to over do it. I used a benriner but you could use a mandoline or if you’re really good with a knife that will work too. Add twenty-two grams to each salad.

I find it easiest when trying to get lots of olives out of a jar to use a slotted spoon. Doing this fish out spoonfuls and add ten to each salad.

Next, this is where it gets messy, crumble sixty-two grams of feta onto each salad. Don’t worry the crumbles don’t need to be small or uniform just not one big hunk.

Finally top with your squid. For what I had it ended up being about 34 grams per salad. Just weigh your squid and divide by eight.

Lastly I make a crazy simple dressing. I took a plastic condiment bottle and added the vinegar and oil, held my finger over the opening and shook. I then lightly dressed the salad I was serving. To finish I garnished with a lemon wedge and another crack of pepper.

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