Polpo's Warm Squid Salad with Cavolo Nero and Chickpeas

Thursday 25 October 2012

You've got friends coming and you want to wow them with your culinary skills. The only problem is you're pressed for time. You've got roughly 30 minutes to put together a restaurant worthy meal. What do you do? Judging from the rapturous response from my guests and family, I figured that this dish is good enough to be featured on the blog.

I found this recipe from a book that the hubby bought for me. Polpo is written by a London restauranteur Russell Norman who has a chain of restaurants under his belt. The recipes concentrate on mostly basic and simple Venetian fare. I may have a mild obsession for Isabel Marant clothes and designer handbags but when it comes to food, I head straight for hole in the wall, the mom and pop type bistros or trattorias.

The secret to this effortless and uncomplicated dish is that you don't overcook the squid lest it becomes chewy and tough. Also, ensure that the wine completely evaporates which I forgot to do once. Poor Lil L's face turned tomato red and hot from alcohol consumption. She grew progressively*hicgiggly and *hic* *hic* jolly. I've managed to get my 6 year old drunk.

As usual, I've adapted and simplified the recipe as few have time to spend hours in the kitchen. The beauty of this dish is you can improvise and reduce or increase the ingredients depending on your palate.

Serves 4 to 6

2 heads of cavolo nero (deep green earthy Italian cabbage. Use kale as an alternative)
800g of cleaned squid tubes
extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt and black pepper
3 garlic cloves, finely chpped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
5 medium tomatoes, quartered, seeds removed and roughly chopped (used canned chopped tomatoes if you don't have fresh tomatoes. Scoop half a can into the mixture)
1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
50ml white wine
1 chicken stock cube (I use Kallo organic stock cube)

1. Remove the leaves of the cabbage by holding the stem between your thumb and index finger and running the thumb and index finger of your other hand down the stem to pull the leafy part away. It will separate easily. Chop roughly.

2. Wash the squid and cut the body into 1.5 - 2 cm rings.

3. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a very hot frying pan, place the squid in. Add a little salt and pepper, chopped garlic, chilli (omit this if you have young kids), chopped tomato flesh, cavolo nero and chickpeas. Add a splash of white wine and cook on high heat for 1-2 minutes.

4. Mix the chicken stock cube with 200ml of hot water. Pour in the stock and boil until the cabbage has started to collapse and the stock is reduced. Remove from heat.

5. Dish into bowls and serve with crusty bread.


  1. This looks and sounds so yummy Marlene! Love that you always share recipes that aren't too time consuming or tricky to recreate! :)


  2. This looks very delicious, I wish I had half your cooking talent!

  3. That's a dish for the Grumps. I can't do chickpeas but he loves them. Maybe if he's good, I might make it for him. Maybe.

  4. Oh this looks so delicious (already told you thin on twitter :). I love squid (and Polpo, by thw way), so I'm definitely going to try this recipe.

    1. Oh.. I clicked 'publish' before checking the spelling. Arghh!

  5. Uncomplicated. That's the key word for a recipe in my books! I'm going to give this a go on the weekend. I miss your cooking!

    xx Mandi



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