Step one: Marinate. Drizzle your calamari steaks with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and whatever herb you have on hand. I had thyme.
If unfamiliar, Calamari steaks, are basically the round cylindrical body of a very large squid, sliced open and flattened out, and trimmed into steaks.
Step two: Steam baby potatoes.
Step three: Make the Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette. Preserved lemons, most commonly used in Moroccan and Indian cooking, are basically lemons that have been cured ( or preserved) in salt and lemon juice.
They are ridiculously easy to make at home, but require a little bit of time, about 14 days.
If you are interested in making your own, look at this easy Preserved Lemon Recipe.
Step four: Thinly slice onion, and cut the bell pepper in half.
Step five: Grill or use a Grill pan.
Grill the bell pepper, onion, steamed potatoes and calamari.
Tip: When grilling calamari, remember that they cook extremely fast. Just a few minutes on each side, until the flesh becomes opaque.
Calamari tastes the best right off the grill so be sure to time everything so that the calamari is one of the last steps. Thinly slice and drizzle with a little vinaigrette.
These tiny little cuts on the calamari were put there to keep the calamari from curling on the grill. If your steaks don’t come with these, then add some with a sharp knife.
Once grilled assemble the salad.
Step Six: Toss arugula with onions, peppers and baby potatoes and enough dressing to lightly coat.
Divide among plates. Top with grilled calamari.
Hope you like this Grilled Calamari Steak Salad!
On the homefront: New Zealand was a place of wonder. Never have I seen so many beautiful geological oddities in one small geographical location.
White pebble beaches nestled up to black pebble beaches, dramatic volcanic landscapes, lush tropical forests, tall mountain peaks, endless rolling farmland, millions of sheep and the dreamy clear waters of the warm Tasman Sea.
And the rocks! Hundred-foot boulders, strewn across sleepy grassy hills, large mysterious shapes resembling elephants and whales and the heads of old giants. On the tops of these giant rocks, large oval holes, the size of bathtubs are carved out by years of rain and weather. And laying inside one, one beautiful sunny day, staring up at the sky, I felt as small as an ant.
Truly a strange and wondrous place.
While in New Zealand, Brian planned a little “spur of the moment” hike for us. I’m writing it here so I remember it, always. “Just a hill”, Brian said, that one sunny morning. Brian is a climber. He likes big rocks and mountains and volcanoes and is quick and sure-footed as a mountain goat. I am more like a sheep. I like hills. But I prefer to meander up them, inspecting flowers, trees and bugs along the way, not really caring if I ever get to the top. But with Brian, I try to keep up as best I can, often herded along by our dog Max.
When we finally arrived at the base of this “hill”, immediately all my alarms went off. It seemed pretty high for a hill. I couldn’t really even see the top because it was shrouded in dark clouds. As we started the long steep climb up, I began to feel anxious. After the first 20 minutes… So, how long do you think this will take? I asked as calmly as possible.
Brian said he really didn’t know. Hummmm, I thought, as anger and irritation began to set in. He knew but wasn’t telling me. Clearly, he did not understand my need to feel a little bit in control. Such things required mental preparation. Of course, if had I known, I would have worn different socks.
The first hour eked by slowly. My legs were tired. I was mad. Why climb a mountain I thought. I really could not see the point, I mean after all, you just come back down, right? Why couldn’t we enjoy the mountain from the road?
My mind fought every step up I took. It was interesting to observe. I usually actually really like hiking, so why was I having such a difficult time with this? I kept inventing reasons to stop and to turn around. But Brian steadily pressed on, ignoring my comments. It got to the point where I had to concentrate very hard to try to just control my breathing and make it to the next switchback, so most of my chattering ceased. And then when it couldn’t get worse, it started raining. I really could have cried then.
Not until the second hour passed, did it start to occur to me that we were not turning around, ever. Or at least until we reached the top. I slowly began to accept the inevitable. And, of course, the mountain got steeper. I felt helpless, defeated. Out of the mist, a poem I once read fluttered back to me. My silver parachute. My subconscious had kept this little care package tucked away until the moment I needed it most.
Holding on to it like a tow rope, I repeated it, over and over and over, a mantra. Unrelenting, the switchbacks continued. At each turn, I thought, is this the top? At the hardest part, bits and pieces of Psalms 23 floated in and out of consciousness, remnants of my childhood, and I thought to myself… I must be dying.
Eventually, I was too exhausted even to think. It takes energy to think, and there just wasn’t any to spare. There was a brief period of time where I just sort of disappeared. I can’t explain it any other way, but I was gone.
It felt as if, I was the mountain itself, the rain, the mist, the earth, the rock, the scrubby brush, the bird flying overhead. It didn’t last long, but for those few minutes, I felt so utterly at peace. Clear. Like everything was exactly and perfectly as it should be. Inarticulate beauty. Those few moments were my favorite part of the whole month in New Zealand.
I learned this: We can do hard things. We can climb mountains, not just hills. Even in rain. We can stop resisting things we deem too difficult, or scary, or painful, if we choose.
Acceptance aligns us with the reality of our lives. And when we finally give in to acceptance, this honest place, where perhaps nothing turned out as we planned, and instead, we have this life, we begin to understand that maybe it’s exactly the way it is supposed to be, right now. Spaciousness comes. And with it, the ability to see the beauty in all of it.