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In the Kitchen with Vital Choice

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Home Cook's Test: Spicy Calamari with Salmon Bacon
This simple, 20-minute meal lets the seafood flavors shine

calamari and bacon with veggies

Welcome to Vital Choice at Home!

This series features me, Michelle – a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains – my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood and lots of regular home cooking.
(Learn more about me, below.)
I want to feature the products and preparations you’re curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?
Email me and help to shape this series.

In my ongoing quest to make light and nutritious lunches for myself, I recently adapted this recipe for spicy calamari from Gourmet magazine.

I cut out a great deal of the fat and added some bright, green spinach to the recipe, and the resulting meal was out of this world.

Plus, it all comes together easily in under 30 minutes with very little prep, which is my kind of cooking!

This was only my second time cooking calamari, and the simplicity of this preparation really lets the seafood shine, front and center.

The recipe is light, lean and nutritious, and beautiful on the plate, making it a striking choice to serve company.

A few notes for the cook
If you’ve not cooked with Vital Choice Wild Alaska Salmon Bacon before, you are in for a treat!

This flavorful alternative to traditional bacon is just as dynamic and lends a lovely sweet-yet-smoky flavor to any dish. And the leftovers were delicious with eggs and whole grain toast the next morning.

Plus, a two-slice serving of salmon bacon has just 70 calories with no trans or saturated fats and adds 13 grams of protein and over 300 mg of healthy omega-3s to your meal.

As for the Wild Pacific Calamari, the wonderfully mild flavor really comes through, and by only sautéing for 2-3 minutes, you get none of the rubbery texture that results from overcooking.

Please feel free to adjust the spice to your taste – made as suggested below it’s what I would call medium spicy.

Spicy Calamari with Salmon Bacon and Lemon-Spinach Quinoa
Makes 2 servings, easily doubled

1 cup quinoa
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups fresh baby spinach
4 slices Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Salmon Bacon, thawed (or pork bacon)
1-2 teaspoons organic extra virgin olive oil or macadamia nut oil
1 8-ounce package Vital Choice Wild Calamari, thawed
1 bunch of scallions (4-6), chopped
½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Drain thawed calamari and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice tubes into ½ inch rings and halve tentacles lengthwise. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and set aside with scallions and red pepper flakes.
  2. Prepare quinoa according to package instructions. Once quinoa is finished and all the moisture is absorbed, toss with juice and zest of one lemon and season to taste with salt. Gently stir in baby spinach leaves, which will wilt slightly in the warm quinoa.
  3. As the quinoa cooks, heat a small bit of oil (½ teaspoon or so) in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add salmon bacon and quickly sear, turning once, about 1 minute per side. Please don’t overcook. (Pork bacon wil take longer to cook through.)
  4. Once lightly browned, crumble or slice to use as garnish on your finished calamari. Once the quinoa is ready to serve and bacon is prepared, heat a small bit of oil (½ to 1 teaspoon) over medium-high heat (you can use the pan you seared the salmon bacon in). 
  5. Sauté the scallions, red pepper flakes and calamari 2-3 minutes until just cooked through (mine cooked only 2 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish sautéed calamari with salmon bacon and serve with lemon-spinach quinoa. Enjoy!

My rating: 4 out of 4 stars

A Note from Michelle

Like you, I have a passion for beautiful-yet-healthy food that’s easy to prepare.
While I do love making the occasional "fancy” dinner, most of the time I’m short on time and have a house full of hungry people who want to eat NOW.
I’m not a professional chef – just a busy mom who loves to cook and who’s focused on that intersection of healthy and delicious.
I want this series to feature the products and preparations you’re curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?
Email me and help to shape this series.
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