Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare). This Italian classic is a light, bright salad of gently cooked seafood, including an exquisite mix of prawns, scallops, calamari and octopus tossed together in a zesty dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and parsley.
It’s a great Italian option for Christmas Eve. Starting the squid in a room-temperature poaching liquid, then heating it just until it starts simmering, cooks it through without giving it a rubbery, tough texture.
500ml white wine
3 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
20 medium-sized prawns, cleaned and de-veined
500g scallops, cleaned
500g squid/calamari, cleaned and cut into rings
3 cups cooked octopus, cut into thin slices (see tip)
2 cups chopped celery
1⁄2 bulb of fennel, cut in slices
2 shallots, cut in rings
1 cup green or black olives
200ml extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup lemon juice
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
A small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Dash of red pepper flakes
In a stockpot, combine 2 litres of water, the wine, bay leaves and crushed garlic. Slice the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the mixture. Drop the lemons into the pot, then bring the mixture to a boil, before then reducing the heat to medium-low.
Cook the prawns in their shells for 2 minutes, then remove from the stockpot. Add the scallops, cook in the same manner for 2 minutes then remove from the stock. Then let the stock cool to room temperature. Turn up the heat again under the stock and put in the squid while it’s still cool.
Cook until the liquid just starts to simmer, and then remove squid from the pan. Combine the cooked prawns, scallops, squid and octopus together and set aside for later.
Place all of the seafood in a large serving bowl and add the chopped celery, sliced fennel and shallot rings.
Place all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl, season and mix well. Pour the dressing over the seafood, then cover and allow to marinate for at least 3-4 hours in the fridge. Just before serving, adjust the seasonings, add the olives and serve at room temperature.
TIP: If you are cooking the octopus yourself, add it to the stockpot and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until it is tender. Remove from the pot and let cool then cut into thin slices. The octopus will then be ready to mix with the other seafood.