Today, we want to show you how to prepare grilled Cajun calamari, a mouthwatering recipe inspired by the traditional Cajun cuisine.
We love Louisiana cuisine, as it's rich in vegetables, seafood, and spices. We marinated fresh squid in a spicy seasoning prepared with paprika, thyme, cayenne, and lime. Then, we quickly grilled it to lock in the flavour.
In classic Cajun-meal style, we served the calamari with a generous side of sautéed peppers, tomatoes and brown rice. This way, you'll have a nutritious and balanced meal that packs proteins and fibres, all under 500 calories. It's perfect for dinner or packed for your next-day lunch-box.
Here are some quick nutritional facts. A serving provides over half of your recommended daily intake of proteins. Along with fibres, proteins make you feel full for longer helping you eat less thought the day and thus consume fewer calories.
Calamari are incredibly nutritious as they provide proteins and B vitamins, in particular vitamin B12 and B6, but also minerals like copper and selenium.
Red and green peppers and tomatoes add a source of fibres and precious antioxidants to this dish for an all-health boost.
Sounds good? Then let us show you how to make it, in under an hour!
How do you clean calamari?
To clean fresh calamari, start by pulling apart the tentacles from the body. The innards will come out along with the tail of the squid.
Now, discard any part that is behind the tentacles by cutting below the eyes line. Then, remove the beak at the base of the tentacles.
Finally, remove the cartilage - the cuttlebone - from inside the calamari body and discard it.
Which vegetables go well with grilled calamari?
For this recipe, we looked at the traditional vegetables used in Cajun cuisine, such as bell peppers, celery, and tomatoes. However, feel free to swap with or add other veggies.
You can try using okra, chayote - also known as mirliton - or sweet potatoes, which are often used in the Cajun cuisine too.
Also, other good options include yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumber.
Alternatively, you can serve this grilled squid with a side green salad or cabbage slaw.
How long will this calamari dish last?
These marinated squids will taste even better the next day, but we recommend you don't store them for more than three days.
Make sure you transfer the seafood into an air-tight container and keep it in the fridge.
Then, simply reheat it in the microwave or a skillet before serving it.
How do you keep the squid tender?
When it comes to prepare and cook squid, few tricks can help you keep this delicious seafood tender, thus avoiding that chewy gummy texture.
To keep the flesh soft, you can gently pound it with a kitchen mallet, pan, or any heavy object.
Then, when it's time to cook it, you have two options: fast cooking or slow cooking.
You can cook the calamari for up to two minutes over high heat- as we did in this recipe. This method works great for recipes that call for stir-frying, sautéing, or grilling.
The other alternative is to cook the squid for at least 30 minutes over low temperatures. This option is best suited for broth-based recipes.
- Green or Red Peppers
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Chilli Powder
- Wholegrain Rice
- Fresh Parsley
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Garlic Cloves
- Cayenne Pepper
- Black Pepper
Let's start by preparing the Cajun marinade.
Squeeze the lime and lemon in a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp of olive oil, and crushed garlic. Then, stir in the oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, and black pepper.
If you're using fresh calamari, then now it's time to remove the innards and other unwanted parts. Check our FAQ below for useful tips on how to do it.
Put the squid tentacle aside and add the gutted calamari bodies to the Cajun seasoning.
Leave the seafood to marinate in the spicy sauce for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. If you have time, you can even leave it to soak overnight.
Meanwhile, let's prepare the rice.
In a saucepan, add the whole grain rice, cover with water, and add a pinch of coarse salt.
Simmer for 15 minutes or according to packet instructions. Then, drain excess water and set aside.
Next, heat a grill pan and add the calamari.
If you have any leftover marinade, keep it aside to season the vegetable side or garnish the squids before serving them.
When the calamari start to curl up flatten them down with a spatula to get those nice grill marks.
Try not to overcook the squids as they will get tough and chewy. Instead, grill them for less than two minutes to keep the flesh tender.
Now, let's cook the vegetable side. Thinly dice the celery, onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and add chopped celery and onions. Sizzle them for a minute or two.
Then, add tomatoes and diced peppers. Season all with salt and chilli powder, add in the calamari tentacles and pour in any leftover Cajun marinade.
Cook the ingredients for 10 minutes or until the veggies have softened. You can add a splash of water to keep the mixture creamy and saucy.
Divide the rice and cooked pepper and tomatoes among serving bowls or plates.
Then, top with the grilled Cajun squids, and pour any leftover spicy marinade.
Finally, garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
When you're ready to eat, give all a good stir, and you're good to go.
If you have time, we recommend you marinate the calamari in the Cajun seasoning overnight. They will be much more flavourful.