the appetizer:

Popular TV chef Padma Lakshmi spices up your taste buds with her new cookbook, Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet. Recipes include Yellow Velvet Lentil Soup with Cumin and Dried Plums; Sautéed Cauliflower with Anise and Cashews; and Sautéed Calamari with Checca.



Sautéed Calamari with Checca

Serves 4-6

Sautéed Calamari with Checca


I have a weakness for all things breaded and fried, but it's often a pain to deep fry at home, not to mention hard on the waistline. This recipe is pretty easy to make and doesn't entail the greasy mess of deep frying. I love the salty crunch of sautéed calamari with the tangy juices of tomato and lemon juice. The green touch of parsley gives a bite of freshness that balances the oil and butter, and the jalapeño gives the taste a final zing. Don't bother cleaning and cutting the calamari yourself. It s worth going to a good fishmonger and asking him or her to do all the hard work of dressing the squid into neat rings. Many stores now sell bags of frozen calamari, and these work fine, too.

Checca is an Italian word (pronounced kekka) for a chopped tomato and herb salad. Mine is a bit non-traditional because I add jalapeños. But you can leave them out if you like things milder. Serve this dish in cones of brown kitchen or butcher paper, presented on appetizer plates, or, for a rustic touch, on a serving plate lined with newspaper. I sometimes try to find pink Italian sports pages like the Gazzetta Dello Sport or some other foreign-language newspaper, or even those boldly headlined tabloids that talk about alien landings on Earth. It's a fun way to add humor to your table.

  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh calamari, cut into rings
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups dried bread crumbs tossed with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups diced, seeded tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground rock salt
  • Juice of 1 very ripe lemon

1 Wash the calamari and dry the rings on paper towels.

2 Soak the calamari in the milk, mixing with a fork to distribute milk over all of the calamari surfaces.

3 Melt the olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat.

4 Shake the calamari to rid it of excess milk. Toss the calamari in bunches with the seasoned bread crumbs in a brown paper or plastic bag. Shake well to coat all of the calamari.

5 When the oil and butter are nice and hot, stir-fry the calamari until crispy but not rubbery on the inside, no more than 3 to 4 minutes.

6 Toss in the tomatoes, parsley, jalapeño, rock salt, and lemon juice. Remove from heat and stir. Serve immediately.

  • from:
    Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet
  • A World of Recipes For Every Day
  • by Padma Lakshmi
  • Weinstein Books; 2007
  • Hardcover; 288 pages; $34.95
  • ISBN-10: 1602860068
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602860063
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet


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This page created November 2007

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