Cook in the Moment: Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil

Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil (c)2012

This year more than any other, I’ve been reveling in summer. Time passes so quickly, it’s easy to blink your eyes and realize you’ve let a whole season go by without stopping to enjoy it. I’ve been working hard and playing hard lately. After working through the weekend trying to meet deadlines, I decided to spend an hour this afternoon lying by the pool, just to remind myself it is summer, after all. It’s important to do that, you know. To stop, to slow things down a bit and take a look around, savoring the season. Don’t take it for granted that you’re going to get another summer. Life is so fragile.

la Domestique savoring summer (c)2012

Photo above taken by photographer James Anderson

I’ve made a little list of what summer is to me, and I would love for you to share what summer is to you in the comments section.

Summer is…

bubbly wine

weekend getaways

fruit pies & tarts

dining alfresco at home

trips to the farmer’s market on Saturdays

watching Le Tour de France with the husband

lying by the pool with friends, eating popsicles

the aroma of fresh basil in pesto and mint in my mojito

going to concerts at the most beautiful outdoor venue in the world

And summer is seafood. This recipe for Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil is a perfect summer meal: light, fresh, colorful, and full of flavor. I’m a big fan of squid- the sweet, ocean flavor is so delicate. Squid should either be seared hot and fast or braised low and slow, as anything in between will leave it rubbery. For the recipe below, I chose to grill the squid, slicing the charred pieces into rings and tossing them with sautéed cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, and crushed red chile pepper. Serve Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil as an appetizer or tapas dish with crusty bread for sopping up the juices, or toss it with pasta for a light supper.

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer filled with small adventures and simple pleasures. Don’t let the season pass you by without stopping to truly savor it.

Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil (c)2012

Recipe for Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil

serves 4 as an appetizer

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound baby squid bodies, no tentacles
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • a handful of basil leaves, torn into bite size pieces
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Ingredients for Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil (c)2012

Prepare the cherry tomatoes by washing and then patting them dry. Slice half of the cherry tomatoes in half, leaving the others whole.

Heat a grill on high. Prepare the squid by patting them dry and then pouring over 1 teaspoon olive oil to keep them from sticking to the grill. Season the squid generously with sea salt. Place the squid on the grill and cook for just 1-2 minutes, until nicely charred, then flip to cook the other side. The squid will be firm and finished cooking in no longer than 4 minutes. Remove the squid from the grill and set aside to cool.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking) add the crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute, allowing the garlic to infuse the oil with flavor. Do not allow the garlic to turn brown, adjusting the heat as necessary. Toss in all the cherry tomatoes and season with a couple pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper. Sauté the tomatoes for about 3 minutes, until the whole ones wrinkle in their skins and the halved slices begin releasing their juices. While the cherry tomatoes are cooking, slice the squid into 1/4 inch rings and then add the squid to the tomatoes, cooking just long enough to heat through, no longer than 1 minute.

Transfer the tomato and squid mixture into a bowl and pour over the sherry vinegar. Add the basil and toss the mixture well. Serve in 4 bowls with crusty bread for sopping up the juices.

Prop Details:

The beautiful bowl I used to serve the grilled squid (as well as the tiny finger bowls) was handmade by the talented designer and ceramicist, Teresa Chang of Teresa Chang Ceramics. It is called the Wet Grass Bread Bowl.

Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil (c)2012




  1. Mmmm. I’ve never cooked squid before but you make it look so doable. A few of my favorite summer thoughts: road trips (as you might have noticed!), apple pie, all stone fruit, bbq smells on the grill, summer at my husband’s family lakehouse, fresh herbs in pots all around my patio, grilled corn with herbs, frozen custard at a place called Andy’s, Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO!!

    • Sarah,
      Summer is definitely road trips and grilled corn. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I really dig grilled squid – and yet, I never think of it when I’m cooking at home. I will now, though! For me, summer is the beach and ice cream and cooking on the grill. This picture of you laughing is so happy – it’s contagious!

    • Oh yes Carrie- ice cream! Good one. I’m glad you liked the post.

  3. Such a gorgeous shot of you! Summer in London is rubbish at the moment, but to me it’s pink wine in the sun, salt water providing extra seasoning for your food and back home in Sydney, the tell tale tan from your havianas across your toes.

    • Tori,
      I hope the sun comes out for you soon. Just looked at my feet and I’ve got the criss cross tan lines from my sandals- it must be summer!

  4. Oh man, I love summer.

    • Amen, sister.

  5. Wow, the photographs look so vibrant and yummy! I love anything with seafood:) For me, summer is all about growing food, keep up with eating and storing some for winter time (I know I don’t want to think about it), and visiting beautiful places in Gulf Islands, BC. BTW you look amazing!

    • Thank you Emi! You’ve got a gorgeous garden and it’s great to take the time to do some preserving to keep your garden alive in the kitchen all year.

  6. Jess, what a gorgeous shot of you! So happy and pretty! I’m down with the whole savouring the moments you’ve got while you’ve got them. For me summer is tending my garden, preferablely barefoot; big glasses full of cold wine; fires in my backyard fireplace; picking any sort of berry i can get my hands on; going on a road trip, even for a day, out of the city and onto gravel roads, just to smell that prairie smell. Oh, summer, there is nothing like it. I haven’t cooked a lot of squid, but yours looks delicious, and those tomatoes, my God. I can’t wait for mine!

    • Thank you Renee! Your summer sounds divine, especially the part about barefoot gardening!

  7. Summer is absolutely bubbly white wine and alfresco dinners at home! For me, it is also: iced coffee, warm weather evening walks through the park, and salt on my skin from a day at the beach.

    Cheers, Jess!

    • Elyse,
      I’m cooling down with an iced coffee right now. Your summer sounds wonderful!

  8. I love your blog, everything is amazing, recipes and photos. :D

    • Thank you David! I just checked out your site and I think what you do is great too! Your style really speaks to me. Looking forward to following your salads!


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