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!
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There is this one Dominican restaurant that we go to in Bayonne pretty often to pick up food to go. It’s not a fancy place – it has prepared food in buffet-style containers ready to go. But even though it is not fancy, the food is so so good.
Rice and beans, pulled pork, chicharron, maduros, fresh salads, and tres leches for dessert. All the good comfort food. And no matter what we get for the main course, I always grab an order of their calamari salad from there because it is one of my favorites from there.
I decided to recreate their calamari salad at home, and after a few attempts I think I have the recipe down!
This Calamari Salad with Bell Peppers and red onions is super easy to make. It is a fun salad for a family dinner, but also makes a great appetizer salad for entertaining because it is so colorful. And the great thing is you can double the recipe easily without needing any extra time.
I made a double batch for my grandma’s birthday cookout and it was a huge hit with my whole family. The whole salad was devoured!
This calamari salad not only tastes great, but it is also a pretty darn good looking salad, if I say so myself.
The combination of red onion and colorful peppers makes this a beautiful salad to serve even on special occasions. Plus the fact that it has calamari makes it sound fancy – you are sure to impress your dinner guests or family with this recipe. 🙂
It’s a great salad for summer BBQs, holiday parties, or when having guests over.
A few tips for making this calamari salad:
- You can buy calamari (aka squid) in the frozen seafood section of your grocery store. Just make sure the package says that the squid is cleaned out. When you get home, just thaw the squid, blot it with a paper towel, and slice thinly. You can also often find squid in the fresh counter of the seafood section – you know, where they have all the fish fillets on ice. Just ask the person behind the counter for a pound of calamari, and make sure they clean it out if it’s not cleaned.
- 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 1/2 tablespoon and add more later on if you prefer.
You might enjoy these other recipes that are GREAT for entertaining:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please let me know with a comment and a star rating below! And don’t forget to save it on Pinterest for later.
Easy Calamari Salad with Bell Peppers
- 1 lb sliced calamari (squid), thawed if frozen
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning (or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 red onion , thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove , minced
- 1 bell pepper , thinly sliced (red or yellow look best!)
- Salt & pepper to taste (about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon each)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves , chopped
- Combine the chopped calamari with the lemon pepper seasoning and mix well. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the calamari for about 5 minutes or until fully cooked, stirring frequently.
- 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.
- Add the cooked calamari and the rest of the ingredients (sliced bell pepper, 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.
- If you don't have rice vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar (just start with 1/2 tablespoon and add more if you prefer), or skip it all together.