This calamari salad with fennel and avocado is a lovely mix of textures and flavors, all brought together with a citrus dressing. It would be perfect for a potluck, picnic or party.
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This calamari salad with fennel and avocado is inspired by our trip to Cyprus in November. Winter weather back home didn't exactly encourage me to make it soon, but I've had it on my mind and am so glad to finally make and share it. It is so easy to make, fresh and flavorful. Plus while it’s a salad, it’s not the kind that wilts to mush within 5 minutes.
Apart from the avocado, and that’s helped along by the tasty citrus dressing, everything in here is pretty robust. That means it’s great for taking along to a party, barbecue or whatever excuse you may have. It’s also that bit unusual without being weird, so you don’t have to worry about making the same thing as a neighbor.
If you're a regular, you may have seen me mention our trip to Cyprus and Greece when I shared my baba ghanoush and youvetsi. Despite it potentially seeming crazy to travel with a toddler and six week old baby, it was on the whole a lovely trip. The gorgeous weather and ease of things in Cyprus in particular naturally helped a lot.
I’ve never been one for all-inclusive style resorts, but I have to say I enjoyed being half board in a very nice hotel. With three restaurants, a partner hotel next door you could also use, and a decent kids menu (that was free) in the main restaurant, not to mention a small playground on site and the beach out front, I could see the appeal when young kids are involved.
Plus it was balanced out for me as we were right in town by a nice waterfront and not far from Roman ruins with amazing mosaics to explore.
The main restaurants in both our and the partner hotel had a buffet each night. Again I’m not usually that big a fan, but this was surprisingly good. I especially liked that they had a number of relatively local dishes most nights.
One of the salad bar options one night was a calamari salad similar to this and I knew I had to recreate it at some point at home. It’s got everything a good salad should have to me – tasty, varied ingredients, a flavorful dressing, and it doesn’t feel like you are just eating a bunch of leaves. In fact this salad doesn’t even have any.
How to make this calamari salad
This salad is also really easy to make and robust enough it will travel well if you want to take it along with you to a potluck or otherwise make it a little bit ahead. My husband took it to work for lunch the day after I made it and it was still good.
The squid/calamari takes all of a minute to cook - quite literally - then you transfer it to iced water to stop it cooking any further. Meanwhile chop up everything else, whisk up the simple lemony dressing and that's it.
This calamari salad is a lovely mix of crunch from the fennel and pepper, softness from the avocado and with the dressing and parsley adding that extra touch of freshness, all complementing the squid perfectly. It's filling but in a healthy-feeling way, if you know what I mean. It's is a real taste of summer and will definitely be on our table again.
Try these other salads great to make ahead:
- Mexican street corn salad
- French lentil salad with feta, fennel and celery
- Fruit, herb and feta Israeli couscous salad
- Plus see more make ahead salads in my collection and more lunch recipes in the archives.
Calamari salad with fennel and avocado
- 1 lb calamari/squid 450g
- 1 fennel bulb small/med
- 1 red pepper
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes 170g, or grape tomatoes
- 1 handful fresh parsley large
- 2 avocado
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- few grinds of salt and pepper
- Clean the squid and pat it dry. Cut the tentacle part in half or quarters lengthwise (and any longer pieces cut into shorter lengths) and slice the main body, including any flaps, into rings around ⅓in/1cm thick.
- Prepare a bowl with iced water then add the squid to a pan of boiling salted water (a 4-5 quart pan, around half full with water and about ½-1tsp salt should be good) and cook for around 40-60 seconds until it goes opaque. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon or strain into a colander then immediate place in the iced water to stop it cooking any more.
- Meanwhile cut the fennel in half then into thin slices, including a little of the green fronds if you like. Slice the red pepper, cutting any larger slices in half, halve the tomatoes and roughly chop the leaves from the parsley. Peel and dice the avocado.
- Place all of the chopped vegetables and squid in a bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, mustard and a few grinds of salt and pepper and pour the dressing over the salad. Carefully toss everything together and leave for a good 15min or so to take on the flavors a little before serving. You can also chill it a good few hours until you are ready to use it.
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