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Jonathan Waxman’s Calamari with Wilted Frisee and Chili Aioli

This vibrant and bold calamari recipe comes from the brilliant mind of Chef Jonathan Waxman, and is just what the summer ordered. It makes an impressive appetizer and only takes a few minutes to make.

Calamari with Wilted Frisee and Chili Aioli
Serves 2 to 4


For the aioli:
2 cloves pure white garlic with no blemishes
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
5 turns black pepper from a pepper mill
2 large egg yolks
1 cup mild olive oil
1 teaspoon minced Serrano chili
1 teaspoon hot water

For the calamari:
8 to 10 squid, freshly cleaned, cut into 1/2-inch rings, heads and tentacles bite-sized, enough to yield 2 cups chopped
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 heads frisee, washed, dried, and ends trimmed and torn into large pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (toast on a baking sheet in a 300-degree oven until golden, about 8 minutes)


1. Make the aioli: Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with the salt and pepper. Add the egg yolk and crush to combine. While continue to crush and stir, dribble in a tiny bit of olive oil, drips at a time, until completely incorporated. The process will take about 15 minutes until all the oil is absorbed. Stir in the chili and the hot water and keep at room temperature.

2. Make the calamari: Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat.

3. In a medium bowl, toss squid with 2 tablespoons olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook on griddle until golden, about 2 minutes. Return to bowl.

4. Deglaze griddle with white wine. Add garlic and frisee and toss to wilt. Transfer to bowl with calamari. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice over the top and toss with up to 1 cup aioli, adding more, if desired. Toss with breadcrumbs and transfer to a platter. Serve warm.

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