Barton Seaver's Grilled Squid with Endive, Potatoes and Basil Pesto.

Barton Seaver’s Grilled Squid with Endive, Potatoes and Basil Pesto. Photo by Ted Axelrod

Grilled octopus is a popular appetizer on many restaurant menus. But because it is not being fished responsibly, Barton Seaver has no recipes for it in “For Cod and Country.” Instead, he suggests cooking domestic squid. According to National Geographic’s Seafood Decision Guide, created under Seaver’s direction, squid harvested in the United States has a sustainability ranking of “Good” and is also low in mercury.

“This is one of my all-time favorite dishes,” he writes in the note with the recipe. “I have served some variation of this dish to rave reviews in every restaurant where I have been chef. Ask your fishmonger not to remove the delicate purple skin when cleaning the squid; it makes a difference in texture. However, if you cannot find squid with its skin still attached, the recipe will still be delightful.”


Serves 4 as a first course or light lunch

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes



1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

8 medium fresh squid, cleaned, about 1 pound

2 bunches frisée lettuce, separated into leaves and heavy stems trimmed (julienned endive can be substituted)

1 cup basil pesto

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

Place the potatoes in a small saucepan and barely cover them with cold water. Season water generously with salt and bring to a simmer. After about 3 minutes, check the potatoes for doneness. They should be just cooked but not falling apart, about the same doneness that you would use for a potato salad. Drain, then allow potatoes to dry on a plate.


Meanwhile, blanch the green beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and add to the potatoes.

Season the squid with salt. Cook the squid on the hottest part of the grill for about 2 minutes per side. If you’re using squid that still has the skin on it, the purplish skin will begin to char and the color will become a deep, vibrant hue. For skin-on squid, make sure that the section under the wing gets cooked evenly, as if area gets folded over, it won’t cook through. Turn the squid to cook the other side for another 2 minutes. The tentacles should cook about twice as fast as the bodies; when they are done, shift them to a cooler part of the grill to stay warm.

Preheat the broiler.

To serve the salad, transfer the potatoes and green beans to a baking sheet and reheat briefly under the broiler, then mix with the frisée and the pesto. Season with salt.

Pile the salad on a platter. When removing the squid from the grill, shake out the bodies to release any cooking juices that have accumulated inside the tubes. Top the salad with the squid and serve immediately.

Comments are no longer available on this story