Squid (Calamari) Salad and Octopus (Polipo) Salad

"Living by Boston's waterfront, we always had access to the freshest seafood. We were within walking distance of the docks where fishing boats loaded their catch into a large processing warehouse. Fish were hand cleaned, fileted and sorted. Most were destined for distribution to restaurants and markets. Limited days and times were opened to the public. Locally at the corner of Salem and Cross Streets was Giuffre's Fish Market. It was a well-known Boston treasure featuring a huge selection of the freshest seafood anywhere. Squid was almost a throw away species, often used for bait. Being Italian, we knew how special they were. Competition kept prices low but once the general population was exposed to fried calamari and other squid specialties, prices skyrocketed. The availability of squid already cleaned also increased demand and costs. Baby octopus was available in the North End but seldom seen in traditional grocery store chains outside. Today's pricing also suggests demand is still limited. My local gourmet grocery store sold the pound of baby octopus in the picture below for almost half the price of the squid they displayed. Squid and octopus’s salads were almost always in our refrigerator, available for lunch, snacks, or even as a main course with hunks of artesian bread. Please make this dish a day ahead. Sitting overnight, garlic mellows and flavors merge. Don't get me wrong, it's terrific when first made but even better with time. You can also add a little more lemon and can adjust salt. Serve with a spoon. Every mouthful is best with an ample puddle of dressing. Squid submerged in boiling water cooks quickly. Smaller 3" to 5" squid tubes cut into rings takes about a minute, larger and thicker, perhaps a minute and a half. If steaming, about 3 minutes for smaller tubes. Squid is cooked when rings just begin to firm. Anything more, they will become tough and rubbery. Although octopus is thicker, they seem to cook even quicker before becoming tougher. Some use a dipping technique, plunging raw octopus in and out of a pan of boiling water to ensure they don't overcook."
photo by Peter Steriti photo by Peter Steriti
photo by Peter Steriti
Ready In:
1 lb.




  • For Squid, Rinse the squid in a strainer with cold water.  Cut the tubes into 3/8 inch rings.  Pending their size, cut the tentacles in halves or thirds.
  • Cook squid in a pot of boiling water untl they begin to firm, about a minute for small, minute and a half for larger.  Empty cooked squid into a strainer and cool with cold tap water.  When drained, pat dry with paper towel and place squid in a bowl.
  • For Baby Octopus, rinse the Octopus in cold water.  Cut the octopus in uniform bite size pieces.  Place them in a strainer.  Submerge in boiling water for about 45 seconds.  Check for doneness, just firm.  If needed, dip them very briefly in the boiling water again being careful not to overcook.  Cool octopus in cold tap water.
  • Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour dressing into the squid or octopus and mix well.  Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.  Check for seasoning then serve in bowls with a spoon and crusty bread.

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Publisher of www.LuciaTramonte.com a cooking and blogging website named after my Mom and growing up in Boston's Italian North End. Lucia Tramonte was her maiden name.
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