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Asellina's grilled calamari with fregola sarda and cherry tomatoes recipe

Calamari is in vogue this summer: Try it with this simple Italian recipe from a top New York City restaurant.
Calamari is in vogue this summer: Try it with this simple Italian recipe from a top New York City restaurant.
Will Budiaman

Calamari is the new chicken of the sea, so to speak, but much more sustainable than tuna. They are quick-cooking and absolutely delicious, so it's no wonder that chefs across the country are putting them on their menus.

Andrea Montobbio, executive chef of Asellina in New York City's Gramercy district, has a simple and delicious preparation for calamari. He grills it just until cooked through, giving it a pleasant bite — indeed, any previous memories of rubbery, chewy rings are banished the instant you take a bite.

He serves it with cherry tomatoes and fregola, a type of pasta from the region of Sardinia in Italy, which looks similar to couscous. If you have trouble finding it, Israeli couscous is a good substitute.


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large tubes calamari, with tentacles
  • 1 t fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 t fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz fregola sarda
  • 1 oz leeks, julienned
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Crushed Calabrian chile peppers or red chile pepper flakes, to taste


1. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 T olive oil, the calamari, thyme, rosemary, and juice of ½ lemon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours.

2. When ready to cook, preheat a gas grill on high heat, or prepare a charcoal grill. Grill the squid, until opaque, slightly golden, and just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

4. Cook the fregola sarda until al dente, and drain.

5. In a medium sauté pan, combine the remaining 2 T olive oil, leeks, parsley, garlic, and cherry tomatoes, and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

6. Add the fregola to the sauté pan, cook for about 2 minutes, and season with the Calabrian chile peppers, salt, and pepper, to taste.

7. Transfer to a pasta bowl, place the grilled calamari on top, squeeze the juice of the remaining ½ lemon, and garnish with extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves: 1

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