Serves: 2-4 - Time:
Years ago, in a restaurant in Sicily I ate something similar to this dish- with octopus instead of squid. It was simple and utterly delicious and I made a note to try and recreate the dish. Fast forward several years and here we have it, albeit with squid which I think most people find more palatable than octopus and much easier to buy. Soaking the squid in milk tenderises the flesh although you can skip this if you are short of time. I think it serves two to three people for a main course but will stretch to four at least if you are serving the dish as part of a tapas-style meal.
- 300g prepared squid tubes, about six medium-sized ones
- 160ml milk
- 3 aubergines
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 2 preserved lemons, halved, pips removed and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
- 3-4 good pinches sumac
- 75g feta cheese
- To serve extra chopped preserved lemon, dill fronds and rocket
- Split the squid open and lay flat on a chopping board with the inner surface facing up. Score gently with a sharp knife, trying not to cut all the way through the squid. Place in a bowl and pour over the milk. Leave to soak for two hours. Meanwhile you can make the aubergine purée.
- Heat the grill. Pierce the aubergines with a skewer and place on a foil-lined baking tray. Grill under a medium heat for about 30 minutes, turning the aubergines over three or four times to ensure they are evenly charred. Set them aside until they are cool enough to handle. When cool, split the aubergines lengthways and scoop the flesh into a sieve. Discard the skins.
- Leave the flesh to drain for about 10 minutes, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible. Spoon the aubergine flesh into a mixing bowl and stir in three tablespoons of the oil, the garlic, chopped lemons and dill. Season well with salt and ground black pepper. Set aside while you cook the squid.
- Drain the squid and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat a griddle until it is smoking hot. Place two or three pieces of squid in the pan and cook for one minute, pressing down with a spatula if the squid starts to roll up. Turn over and cook for a further one to two minutes. Cook the remaining squid pieces in the same way. Cut the squid into bite-size bits and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Toss the warm squid with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, sumac and some salt and ground black pepper.
- To serve, spread the aubergine purée out on a serving plate. Top with the squid and crumble over the feta. Scatter over some extra chopped preserved lemon, dill and some rocket leaves. Serve with crusty bread.