Charred Calamari with Tomato, Olive and Orzo Salad

By Marcus Samuelsson |

Food-wise, we’ve taken so much inspiration from France, Italy and Spain over the past couple of decades in this country. Those countries have great culinary traditions, but when it comes to European culinary influences, my personal favorite is Greek food.  I learned a lot about Greek cuisine from my soccer buddy Marcos and his mom. Going to their house I’d eat things like moussaka, tsaziki, baklava and Greek Lentil soup. These days you have chefs like Michael Psilakis and restaurants like Milos in New York that are taking Greek food to the next level. This calamari recipe is a homey version of some of those Mediterranean flavors.

Prep Details

Servings: 6


For the Calamari:

1 ½ pound medium calamari (bodies and tentacles)

1 tbsp. olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

4 garlic cloves , chopped

Tomato Olive Salad:

1 cucumber , peeled and chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

½ cup kalamata olives, pitted

½ cup green olives, pitted

1 cup cooked orzo

½ cup crumbled feta

3 tbsp. olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves , chopped

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp. chopped dill

1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

To Finish:

1 tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

2 tbsp. chopped mint

½ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. chile powder

½ tsp. sweet paprika

½ tsp. honey


Photo by Paul Brissman

1. Put the calamari, oil, lemon juice and garlic in a bowl and toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Lift the calamari out of the bowl, leaving any juices behind and put in a saucepan. Cover with cold water by at least 2 inches and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until it is tender, about 2 hours.

3. Toss the cucumber, tomatoes, olives, orzo, feta, olive oil, lemon juice, paprika and cumin together in a salad bowl. Add the dill, mint and parsley, toss again and let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature to let the flavors marry.

4. Preheat the gas grill to high.

5. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, mint, cumin, chile powder, paprika and honey together in a serving bowl.

6. Drain the calamari and pat it dry. Grill until slightly charred on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut the bodies into rings (leave the tentacles whole). Add to the vinaigrette, toss, and serve with the salad.