Calamari Salad with tender calamari, crisp bell peppers, and a zesty lemony dressing. It is light, fresh, healthy, and delicious. Go ahead and try to stop yourself after just one serving!
This Calamari Salad is inspired by a calamari salad at one of our favorite Dominican restaurants. I've managed to recreate their grilled calamari salad with bell peppers pretty exactly! It has tender pieces of calamari (cooked in a pan or a grill pan - I'll show you how!), fresh sliced bell peppers, fresh herbs, seasonings, and a light and tangy lemony dressing.
It's the perfect summer salad when you want something a little special but still healthy. It's low-carb, flavorful, and packed with veggies. This salad is great for a special dinner at home, or for entertaining. The fresh colors and flavors of this salad are always a favorite with family and friends!
I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we do!!
Related recipe: Spanish-Style Potato Calamari Salad
How to grill calamari for salad
I recommend buying cleaned, sliced calamari ready for cooking for this salad. You can typically find that in the frozen section or large grocery stores. If you have to buy whole squid, simply remove the "beak" part from the center, slice it into circles, and chop off the tentacles. Give it a quick rinse, and then pat it dry with a paper towel.
You can grill calamari at home on a grill pan or even a regular skillet.
No need to add salt to the calamari, it is typically salty enough from the salt water it is packed in. If it is not salt enough to your liking, you can always add a little more salt to the dressing for this salad.
Simply season 1 lb of calamari with about 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning (or more to taste!) and mix well. Preheat a large grill pan, brush it with some olive oil, and cook the calamari over high heat for about 5 minutes or until it cooks through, stirring once or twice. It will release some juices, and that's OK. Just cook the calamari until the liquid is evaporated.
Once the calamari is cooked through, just remove it from the hot skillet to prevent it from overcooking and getting tough. The combine it with the rest of the salad ingredients!
Related recipe: Shrimp and Vegetable Couscous Salad
- 1 lb sliced calamari (squid), thawed if frozen
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning (or more to taste)
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced (or use 1-2 chopped scallions)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or use apple cider vinegar or extra lemon juice)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (red or yellow look the prettiest!)
- Salt & pepper to taste (about ½ - 1 teaspoon each)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped (or try cilantro or basil)
Related recipe: Cilantro Lime Shrimp
Step 1: Rinse the sliced calamari with water, then thoroughly pat it dry with a paper towel.
Step 2: In a large bowl, toss together the sliced red onion, rice vinegar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Allow the marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (I use this quick marinating technique for my broccoli salad, lentil tabbouleh salad, and quinoa tabbouleh salad, and it makes the MOST DELICIOUS dressing for salads!!)
Step 3: Combine the sliced calamari with the lemon pepper seasoning and mix well. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and cook the calamari for about 5 minutes or until fully cooked, stirring frequently. It will release some liquid, and that's OK. Just cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated and the squid is cooked through.
Step 4: Add the cooked calamari and the rest of the ingredients (sliced bell pepper, remaining olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley) to the large bowl with the marinated onions. Stir well and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving, stirring every 10 minutes to distribute the zesty lemon dressing.
Related recipe: Spiralized Zucchini Salad with Feta
A few tips for making this calamari salad:
- Don't be afraid of cooking with squid! It's as easy to cook as shrimp. Really. If the tentacles squick you out, just slice them off, discard, and move on. Use the rings only for this salad.
- You can also use shrimp for this recipe, if you prefer! Just buy raw shrimp and cook it the same way that the calamari is cooked for this recipe.
- You'll get the freshest flavor if you use fresh-squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest for this recipe. Seriously. Take the extra two minutes to get some fresh zest and squeeze a fresh lemon. Just make sure to zest the lemon before you squeeze it. Trust me!! It's so difficult (and dangerous!) to try to zest a squeezed slippery lemon. I love using this microplane zester to zest lemons and this citrus squeezer to juice lemons and limes.
- Definitely marinate the sliced red onion in the lemon juice + rice vinegar mixture. This step doesn't take any extra time (just requires being mindful of the order of ingredients) but really gives a nicer flavor to the salad - the onion imparts some of its flavor into the dressing, and becomes a bit milder in the process. A win-win. If you don't have rice vinegar, you can substitute apple cider vinegar, or skip it altogether. If you're going to substitute with apple cider vinegar, start with ½ tablespoon and add more later on if you prefer.
You might enjoy these other recipes that are GREAT for entertaining:
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Easy Calamari Salad with Bell Peppers
- 1 lb sliced calamari - (squid), thawed if frozen
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning - (or more to taste)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil - divided
- ½ red onion - thinly sliced (or use 1-2 chopped scallions)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of ½ lemon - (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 small garlic clove - minced or grated
- 1 bell pepper - thinly sliced (red or yellow look the prettiest!)
- salt & pepper to taste - (about ½ - 1 teaspoon each)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves - chopped (or try cilantro or basil)
- In a large bowl, toss together the sliced red onion, rice vinegar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Allow the marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Use a paper towel to thoroughly pat dry the sliced calamari. Combine the sliced calamari with the lemon pepper seasoning and mix well. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or grill pan, and cook the calamari for about 5 minutes or until fully cooked, stirring frequently. It will release liquid, and that's OK. Just cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, then remove from heat.
- Add the cooked calamari and the rest of the ingredients (sliced bell pepper, remaining olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley) to the large bowl with the marinated onions. Stir well and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving, stirring every 10 minutes to distribute the zesty lemon dressing.
- This recipe can be easily doubled to serve a crowd. If this calamari salad is being served at a large party with lots of other appetizers, then doubling this recipe will easily serve 10-14 people.
- You can use shrimp instead of calamari, if you prefer, or do 50/50 shrimp/calamari.
- If you don't have rice vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar (just start with ½ tablespoon and add more if you prefer), or skip it and use a little more lemon juice.
The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.