- 800g cleaned squid tubes (about 3 large tubes)
From the same family as the octopus and cuttlefish, squid may look jellyish and unappetising but…
- 150g plain flour
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
- sunflower oil, for frying
Sunflower oil is made from pressing sunflower seeds and extracting the oil. It's usually…
For the caponata
- 1 large aubergine
Although it's technically a fruit (a berry, to be exact), the aubergine is used as a…
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…
- 3 celery sticks, sliced
A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…
- 250g cherry tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
True Balsamic vinegar is an artisan product from Modena, in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and is made…
- 150g green olive, stoned
Widely grown all over the Mediterranean, where they've been cultivated since biblical times…
- 30g caper, rinsed if salted
Capers are the small flower buds of the Capparis shrub that grows in the Mediterranean. As they…
- handful basil leaves, shredded
Most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, the…
To prepare the squid, lay the squid flat on a board. Insert a long, thin knife in the opening and neatly cut it along one side. Open it out to a flat sheet and scrape away any leftover membrane. Use the tip of the knife to lightly score the flesh in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut through the squid completely. Cut the scored squid into large triangles ready to be floured and fried.
For the caponata, the aubergine needs to be cut into uniform dice: slice it lengthways about 1cm thick, cut long strips the same size, then chop them into squares.
Heat half the oil in a large sauté pan. Fry the onions for 3-4 mins until starting to soften, add the aubergine, then continue to cook for 8-10 mins until brown and soft. Tip into a colander over a bowl.
Tip any oil from the bowl back into the pan and top it up with a splash of fresh oil. Fry the celery, tomatoes and the crushed garlic together. Sprinkle the sugar over, splash in the vinegar, then cook for 3-4 mins until the tomatoes start to release their juice.
Tip the aubergine and onion back in with the celery. Scatter in the olives, capers and basil, then give everything a good stir. Cook for 5 mins until simmering, then season to taste. Turn off the heat, drizzle in the rest of the oil, then set aside.
Just before cooking, tip the squid into a large bowl. Sift the flour and cayenne pepper together over the squid, then toss well and season with salt. Tip the squid back into the sieve and shake off all the excess flour.
Pour enough sunflower oil into a large frying pan so it’s about 1cm deep. Heat the oil until it sizzles when sprinkled with a little flour. In batches, fry the squid for 2-3 mins on each side until golden and crisp. When cooked, use tongs to lift the squid onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. You are now ready to serve.
Spoon the caponata inside a 10cm wide metal ring (or simply make a neat pile) in the middle of a medium dinner plate. Use the back of the spoon to press down lightly on the caponata and level the top of the pile. Carefully lift the ring away, keeping the tower of caponata circular. Lean five or six pieces of squid around the caponata like petals on a flower, then serve immediately.
CaponataCaponata makes a great sauce for pasta and is also wonderful with griddled tuna steaks, roast chicken, or pan-fried British veal or pork.
Get aheadThe squid can be prepared, scored and cut into pieces the day before, ready to be floured just before frying. Tomato-based recipes like the caponata taste better when they have been left to stand, then served lukewarm – this gives the flavours a chance to develop and harmonise. You can make the caponata a day ahead, then simply reheat until warm rather than piping hot. If making in advance, add the basil just before serving to keep its freshness.