Appetizers/ Fish/ Recipe/ Summer

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Romesco Sauce

If anything gets made this weekend, it should be this: Sautéed calamari with crispy pancetta, wilted radicchio and Moroccan black olives all tucked in nice and cozy like with a smokey Spanish Romesco sauce. Oh yeah, with lots of lemon too. And wine. And damn good friends. Because really, are there any other kind?

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Romesco Sauce - She Eats

I pretty much love the shit out of my friends. They’re my chosen family. They adapt their dinner parties to accommodate my crazy schedule (which isn’t crazy at all because I pumpkin each night by 9pm but it does mean I eat around 5 because I’m 90 like that), put up with my frantic mood swings (because hey, being an entrepreneur is stressful) and regularly oblige my spontaneous bourbon filled movie nights.

I’m really not that exciting of a person to be around and I’m really so lucky that they give me somebody to love.

So it’s only fitting – nay, deserving – that I feed them well. This is one of those dishes.

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She EatsSauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She EatsSauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She Eats

Other things I love almost as much as rustic Mediterranean style food and my friends:

1. Bourbon. Duh. Four Roses is my poison of choice these days.

2. That moment when you crawl into bed and it’s not quite dark out yet but the breeze is caressing its way across your arms while the rest of you is tucked deep under the covers with a good book.

3. That moment when you wake up at 5am (why I go to bed at 8:30, yo) and slide open the screen door and the air is just a little bit cooler than the day before. Fall is coming, bitches. Hells yeah.

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She Eats

4. Queen. Seriously. Don’t stop me now because I’m kind of obsessed. Also, I apologize now for all the Queen puns and links to come.

5. Math. Who’d a thunk it? I told you last month over a round of Sweet Summer Blackberry Nectarine Margarita Popsicles that I was going back to school for a second degree and with that, had to upgrade my science and math classes. Ouch. But as it turns out, I’m kind of loving the math. Granted, I’m only doing grade 10 level stuff right now (fractions, exponents, radicals, blah blah blah) but I look forward to it each day. Hey, if I want that marine biology, I gotta play the game, right?

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She Eats

6. Riding my bicycle! This might be some kind of subconscious osmosis absorption type shit from listening to queen all the time but I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like!

7. Essential oils. Yep. I’ve jumped on that train, fat bottom and all. I’m diffusing and rolling on and using them for the anxiety I’ve had since Dad died and helping me sleep and for all the bumps and bruises I get from walking into corners and furniture… Which happens more often than you’d probably believe. Plus you know, they smell nice. It’s spa-riffic in my place all the time now.

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She Eats

8. Edible Vancouver. Yes, this is a shameless plug right now. But have you checked out the High Summer Issue yet? There’s a pretty swanky lookin cocktail on page 68. Hint: There’s peaches and ginger beer and vodka involved. Oh yeah, and it’s my recipe and photos.

9. Car2Go. Best. Decision. Ever.

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She Eats

10. You. Obviously.

So much love in my life right now. Some thanks to the bourbon. Some thanks to the food. Some thanks to activities. Some thanks to people. But mostly thanks to Queen. Eek! Hey – I warned you. Obsessed.

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She Eats

And now I’ll warn you again: If anything gets made this coming weekend, it should be sautéed calamari with crispy pancetta, wilted radicchio and Moroccan black olives all tucked in nice and cozy like with a smokey Spanish Romesco sauce. With lots of lemon. And wine. And damn good friends.

Happy weekend my loves. You’re the best. Right after Queen.

Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Red Pepper Romesco Sauce - She Eats

Sauteed Calamari with Spanish Romesco Sauce

Yield 4 servings


  • 1.5 Lb squid tubes and tentacles
  • 5 Slices of 1/4" cut pancetta (you could sub a thick cut bacon here if desired), diced
  • 1/4 C Black Moroccan olives, pitted
  • 1 Head radicchio, julienne
  • 1 Lemon for juice and zest
  • Handful of flat leaf Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • Handful of toasted almonds or walnuts

For the Sauce:

  • 2 Medium sized red bell peppers
  • 4-5 Cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Medium sized tomato, chopped
  • 1 C sourdough bread, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1/3 C almonds
  • 1 Medium sized onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Lil Smoked paprika
  • Lil red wine vinegar to taste
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper


First make the sauce:

  1. Turn your BBQ onto medium-high heat. As it warms, toss the whole peppers in some salt, pepper and veggie oil. Make sure it's good and coated on all sides. When the BBQ reaches temperature, toss those babies on the grill. Blacken on all sides, approx 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a glass bowl or plastic bag and cover/seal. Let sit for 10 minutes to steam. This will make it very easy to remove the skins.
  2. Once the peppers have steamed, carefully open the bag and remove the peppers. Set aside for a few minutes until they've cooled just enough that you can handle them. Run your fingers all around the outside, peeling off the skin and discarding. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds (careful - there's probably hot water the vegetable has released in there) and chuck the cleaned peppers in a food processor.
  3. While the peppers cook and steam, chuck a large saute pan over medium heat and once hot, toss in the bread and 1/3 C almonds. Toast until golden and fragrant. Add to the food processor.
  4. Chuck the pancetta in the hot pan and cook until fat has melted away and it's just under bacon crispy - they'll crisp up further as they rest. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Keeping the fat in the pan, add the diced onion, stirring often until the onions are soft. Massage the tomato paste into the onions along with the tomato and garlic. Cook until fragrant - approx 3-4 minutes. Dump all this, including any remaining sauce ingredients, into the food processor. Puree on high until everything is smooth and well blended. Taste, adding more salt or pepper if necessary. Set aside until you're ready to dish up.

Now make the calamari:

  1. Clean the squid. Give it a very quick rinse and dab try with a clean tea towel. Slice the tubes into 1" pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Drizzle a touch of olive oil into that same saute pan and when it's hot and shimmering (not smoking) chuck in the squid, radicchio, olives, parsley, lemon zest and cooked pancetta. Saute about 2 minutes until the squid is more or less cooked through but not rubbery. Chuck in the sauce and heat through for up to a minute.
  3. Remove from the heat and garnish with remaining toasted nuts. Serve with wedges of lemon, a big loaf of crusty bread, wine and good friends.
  4. Eat.

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If you’re into really good food cooked from scratch with fresh ingredients, drinks with a little somethin’ somethin’ and enjoying what you put in your mouth, this book is for you.


Julia Child famously commented, "I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food . . . ” Kristy Gardner has taken this idea to the next level in Cooking with Cocktails. Every recipe is touched with alcohol; the result is a punchy visual adventure with roots in Italian and French cuisine that demands enjoying meals with passion, with friends, and with alcohol.


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  • Renee
    August 7, 2015 at 5:49 PM

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post! New follower!

  • Jacqueline Gum
    August 8, 2015 at 3:45 AM

    Looks amazing! And thanks for the heads up on Four Roses. I will give it a try (I love bourbon too). And I knew you’d kick ass in math! Keep on!
    Jacqueline Gum recently published…Lies… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

  • Lyndsay
    August 8, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    I’ve looking for a great new way to make Calamari. It’s one of the things I haven’t had much since going gluten free. I’m excited to try out this recipe but I’ll substitute the sour dough bread for gluten free bread.

  • Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness
    August 8, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    This tempts me to try eating calamari un-breaded for once… maybe.
    Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness recently published…Highlights from Taste of Toronto 2015My Profile

  • Becky
    August 8, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    I’m usually up at the crack of dawn, but I only wish I could turn it so early. It’s rarely in the cards for me, probably in part due to the fact that I seem to not be able to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. With school starting for the not-so-mini-me week after next, I need to get on the ball and attempt it on a regular basis.
    This looks lovely – can you please come cook it for me because I know damn well I’ll never attempt it myself. I will however pour the bourbon while you cook it.
    Becky recently published…DIY Furniture PolishMy Profile

    • Kristy Gardner
      August 17, 2015 at 10:36 AM

      It’s very difficult to eat dinner early enough Becky – I find that too. I’ve taken to eating lots of raw stuff lately to make it faster. Salads, quick soups, veggie sandwiches or hummus and pita and chopped vegetables. I’m just too lazy to cook a full meal in the heat.

      I hope you get a bit of time to relax once school starts for mini-me!

      PS. Yes, yes I can. If you provide the bourbon, I’ll provide the dinner.
      Kristy Gardner recently published…Sauteed Calamari with Smokey, Spanish Romesco SauceMy Profile

  • Justine
    August 10, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    Hi Kristy! Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my Toasted Trail Mix post! I accidently deleted your comment (whoops!) but just wanted to pop over and check out your blog. It’s stunning, and everything looks so delicious. Looking forward to following along. 🙂
    Justine recently published…TOASTED TRAIL MIXMy Profile

  • Isabelle @ Crumb
    August 20, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    I totally want this in my belly right now! There’s an amazing Neapolitan style pizzeria near my house that makes a deep-fried calamari with romesco that I love, but I try not to order it too often because it’s such a calorie bomb. Love the fact that this is a much less guilty way of enjoying the same flavour combo.
    Isabelle @ Crumb recently published…Game, Set, Match: Strawberry and Cream ParfaitsMy Profile