THERE is nothing to beat the full-on experience of stepping off a plane into the blazing sunshine and being hit by a blast of embalming heat and the aroma of exotic food. Even though we usually spend no more than a few weeks abroad, the psychological effect of wellbeing and relaxation is hugely life enhancing. Sadly, as things stand, there’s no chance of getting away for that longed for continental holiday for a good while yet.

To soften the blow, try to recreate some of that delicious food at home. This calamari salad is a perfect example, and very easy to prepare. Buy fresh Scottish squid ready prepared from your fishmonger.


600-800g fresh squid, cut into rings

1 head cavolo nero, black cabbage or curly kale

1 tin chickpeas

2-3 firm tomatoes

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 bulb new season's garlic, peeled and finely sliced

Dried chilli flakes

Splash dry white wine

Sea salt and black pepper

Flat leaf parsley chopped


Firstly, prepare all the elements of the salad. Hold the stem of cavolo nero curly or kale and, with your fingers, firmly tear the green leaves away from the coarse stem.

Rinse in cold water. Roughly chop the leaves.

Blanch the greens in salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes.

Drain and refresh again in cold water. Set aside.

Rinse the salted water from the tinned chickpeas. (If using dried chickpeas soak them overnight and cook them in your usual manner).

Peel the tomatoes, de-seed and cut into quarters.

Rinse the squid and slice any large pieces into bite sizes.

Pat dry with kitchen towel.

Season well with sea salt and black pepper.

Choose a wide frying pan. Add the olive oil, garlic slithers and crushed chilli flakes and sauté to infuse the flavours.

Raise the heat and add the squid pieces, tossing them in the oil and cooking them briskly in the heat. They will cook quickly, 5-10 minutes or so depending on size. Don’t overcook as it can toughen.

Add the white wine and, still on a high heat, cook off the alcohol until the aromas no longer catch the back of your throat.

Now, lower the heat and add the cavolo nero and drained chickpeas and toss everything together to coat with the flavoured oil and juices from the squid.

Remove from the heat.

Add in the tomatoes and drizzle with some more olive oil.

Check seasoning and scatter over a couple of handfuls of finely chopped flat leaf parsley.

Serve at room temperature for the best flavour.