This recipe for Sweet Chili Calamari Salad is a whimsical dish full of sweet and crunchy goodness. It can serve as an entree or double as a salad to bring to a party. The crunchy, salty calamari is coated in a sweet heat from the chili sauce, complemented by the crunchy lettuce and veggies and juicy burst of mandarin oranges. This dish is based on something my mom ate once at one of our favorite restaurants and said, "I could make that" (This is literally her favorite thing to say at restaurants - and it's often true). My adapted recipe for Sweet Chili Calamari Salad is even better than the original - and cheaper, too!
Whenever I eat calamari, I think of my childhood. I was one the first time I went to a restaurant. My dad took me to dinner at an old Italian place, and the only thing I would eat was calamari - yep, that's right, fried squid. I've loved it ever since. This is probably also the root of my food obsession, considering my one year old self was more interested in the strange, tentacled dish in front of me than the all-too-familiar breads and pastas (though I love those too).
If you're looking for something fun to mix up your boring weeknight routine, this dinner is it! Stop by the grocery store on your way home (did you even know that many seafood counters at grocery stores would fry your calamari for you!? Now you do!), spend a few minutes chopping up some veggies, and you're enjoying a delicious, restaurant-quality dish within minutes of walking in the door - without even turning on your oven.
Sweet Chili Calamari Salad Recipe
Makes 1 serving
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes - the seafood counter does it all for you!
Total time: 5 minutes (plus time to pick up the calamari)
- 1/2 bag of Romaine lettuce (or 1/2 head of Romaine lettuce)
- 1 pepper (any color)
- 1/3 long cucumber (~3 inches of cucumber)
- 1 - 11 oz. can mandarin oranges
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 lb. calamari, fried and breaded Substitute: fried shrimp (at counter or in frozen food section) or baked/stovetop shrimp marinated in the Sweet Chili Sauce
- Sweet Chili Sauce, to taste (I use about 4-5 oz., or 1/4 of a 15 oz. bottle, or 1/2 cup)
Not Gluten Free
Not vegetarian friendly
Not vegan Friendly
GET THE SQUID
1. The first step to this recipe is to acquire the calamari. Call the seafood counter at your local grocery store and order 1 lb. of fried calamari, clarifying you'd like it fried and breaded. In Connecticut, where I'm cooking for the summer, it's only $5.99 a pound at Price Chopper for the calamari to come fully prepared and ready for the salad! That means I pay $3 for my single serving of 1/2 a pound. We call that morning and tell them when we'll be there to pick it up.
PREP YOUR SALAD
2. Slice your pepper, slice your cucumber, and chop your salad (if needed). Combine into a salad bowl.
3. Drain the juice from the entire 11 oz. can of mandarin oranges over the sink. Dump the oranges onto a paper towel and pat them dry to soak up any extra moisture. Add the oranges to the salad bowl.
4. Drizzle one tablespoon of red wine and one tablespoon of olive oil over your salad and toss to coat.
PREP THE CALAMARI & THE FINISHING TOUCH
5. Transfer the calamari into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle calamari with approximately 1/2 cup Sweet Chili Sauce, and gently toss to coat (be careful, you don't want the breading to come off the calamari!)
6. Add the calamari to your salad bowl. Mix. If you'd like, you can drizzle the salad with a little extra Sweet Chili sauce for flavor.
Lunch tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients
LUNCH TOMORROW - Since you get your calamari hot and freshly fried, I wouldn't recommend this for leftovers - plus it's only one serving, so you shouldn't have any anyways.
STORING - Sweet chili sauce should be stored in the fridge once opened. It will last at least 6 months.
EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Save the sweet chili sauce to make this salad again - trust me, you'll want to. You can also use it for as a marinade for chicken, salmon, tilapia, or shrimp. It would also be yummy as the dressing in a wrap with some type of protein (chicken, shrimp), lettuce, carrots, etc. Cucumber and lettuce can go into any salad or sandwich!
This salad is inspired by a dish that used to be on the menu at Joey Garlic's.