Seared squid with merguez sausage

Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Seared squid with merguez sausage

Mustard seed oil


In a small saute pan over medium heat, combine the olive oil and garlic. Cook the garlic about 3 minutes, until it begins to brown slightly.


Add the cumin, mustard seeds and red pepper flakes and remove from the heat immediately. Allow the mixture to cool, then add the fresh oregano leaves.


Strain out 1 tablespoon of oil without seeds and oregano and reserve. Set aside the rest.

Squid, merguez and lentils


In a small bowl, mix the squid with the garlic and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper. Cover and chill for one hour.


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the fennel with half a teaspoon of olive oil and roast until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Allow the fennel to cool and thinly slice.


While the fennel is roasting, rinse the lentils and place them in a small pot with 1 1/4 cup water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook the lentils until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.


Bring a small pot of water, with one teaspoon of salt, to a boil. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain and set aside.


In a small saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and set aside to cool, then slice.


Pat the squid dry and place it on skewers -- three rings plus a piece with the tentacles still attached on each skewer.


Place a medium-sized saute pan over high heat. Coat the pan with 1 tablespoon of strained mustard seed oil. Add the squid skewers to the pan and cook until lightly browned on both sides and the edges begin to curl, about 4 minutes. Remove the squid from the pan and set aside; keep warm.


Add 2 tablespoons of the mustard oil to the pan, including the seeds, garlic and oregano. Add the spinach, sausage and fennel to the pan and heat 1 minute while stirring. Add the lentils and tomato. Add 2 tablespoons more of the mustard oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook until heated.


On a large warm platter, spoon the lentil mixture in the center and top with the squid skewers.

Adapted from Josie LeBalch of Josie Restaurant in Santa Monica. The restaurant uses sepia, but squid can be substituted. For the squid, you will need four 6-inch wooden skewers soaked in water for one hour. Merguez is available at select Whole Foods Markets and Bristol Farms stores.

Betty Hallock was the deputy Food editor, covering all things food and drink for the Saturday section and Daily Dish blog. She started at The Times in 2001 in the Business section and previously worked on the National desk at the Wall Street Journal in New York. She’s a graduate of UCLA and New York University.
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