Food

Mixed greens, juicy watermelon and grilled calamari make up our salad of the summer

Fresh, citrusy, vibrant, crunchy — and ready in 20 minutes, too.

Fresh, citrusy, vibrant, crunchy — and ready in 20 minutes, too

(Photography by Michael Gozum )

Despite being an optimal light summer meal, dinner salads can get a bad rap. It’s so easy to fall back on classics like Chicken Caesars or taco bowls, but variety truly is the spice of life. Mix things up and toss any of your favourite greens with juicy watermelon, crunchy fennel and a simple homemade citrus vinaigrette. Top it off with lightly grilled calamari, or if you prefer, try it with grilled shrimp, salmon, chicken or tofu. Serve as a starter or as a light entrée. 

Orange-Basil Watermelon Salad with Grilled Calamari

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • ½ cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 3 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup olive oil

Calamari:

  • 1 lb squid, cleaned, rinsed and patted dry*
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 6 cups mixed greens
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and shaved (fronds reserved)
  • 3 cups cubed watermelon
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup pitted oil-cured black olives
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Preparation

Dressing: 

Combine basil, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender. Pulse until very finely chopped. With the motor running on low, slowly drizzle in the oil until smooth and emulsified. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes ¾ cup. 

Calamari: 

Preheat grill to high heat; grease grate well. Score down the length of each squid, at ¼-inch intervals, to resemble an accordion. Toss with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side or just until lightly charred and curled. Transfer to a platter. 

Salad: 

Toss greens with fennel, watermelon, radishes, olives and red onion. Drizzle with half the dressing; toss lightly to coat. Divide among dinner plates or arrange on a large, shallow platter. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Top each serving with grilled calamari. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds. Serve immediately. 

*Note: Dressed squid can often be found in the fresh fish section at many grocery stores. It’s also available whole in the freezer section. To clean squid, remove the head by gently pulling away from the body. Cut the tentacles, just below the eye and remove the beak found inside the tentacles. Trim the tentacles to be about the same length; discard everything but the trimmed tentacles. To clean the body, remove the long blade found inside the body (it resembles a long, plastic shard). Pull the dark, purple membrane from the body to reveal the bright white flesh. Trim away the small fins and discard. 

Yield: Makes 4-6 servings


Sabrina is owner and Chief Culinary Officer of SF Creative Culinary Services, an all-inclusive content marketing agency, based just outside Toronto serving food & beverage brands all over the world. Follow along on Instagram @sf_creativeculinaryservices

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