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Spaghetti with Squid, Bell Pepper, and Lemon (Photo © Stephen Peck)

Spaghetti with Squid, Bell Pepper, and Lemon

Sustainable Seafood Recipe

For a quick, easy, and satisfying dinner, sauté garlic, lemon, red pepper flakes, and squid, then toss with pasta. Crusty bread is the only accompaniment needed. Finish with a big bowl of cherries served with a dip of sweetened fresh ricotta cheese with flecks of bittersweet chocolate folded in.

The U.S. Atlantic longfin squid population is considered healthy and abundant, making this item a Seafood Watch "Best Choice." Other squid species, both U.S. and imported, are considered "Good Alternatives."

  • (Serves 2, can be doubled)
  • 6 ounces spaghetti, preferably multigrain
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, flattened
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound cleaned squid, bodies thinly sliced, tentacles left whole
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup bottled clam juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (optional)

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the whole garlic cloves and bell peppers and stir to coat with oil. Cover and cook until the peppers soften and start to brown and the garlic is golden, about 6 minutes. Discard the garlic. Add the squid and red pepper flakes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir until the squid is opaque, about 1 minute. Add the clam juice and simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice.

Add the pasta to the sauce in the skillet and toss over medium-low heat to coat and warm through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid a little at a time if the pasta is dry. Mix in the parsley then taste and adjust the seasonings. Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the pasta. Divide between 2 warmed plates, sprinkle with pine nuts if desired, and serve immediately.

Hint from the Chef

  • Called calamari on Italian menus, squid is fresh tasting and tender-crisp when grilled, sautéed or deep fried for no more than 3 minutes, or simmered for 45 minutes to an hour. Anything in between and it will be tough.

Kristine Kidd
Kristine Kidd, Monterey Bay Aquarium Food Editor

Best Choice Squid


Squid grow quickly and reproduce at a young age, making them highly resilient to fishing pressure. The U.S. Atlantic longfin squid population is considered healthy and abundant, making this item a Seafood Watch "Best Choice." Most other squid are caught in high-seas fisheries—located far from shore and notoriously difficult to manage. Enforcing regulations and even collecting data is difficult in the fisheries, resulting in a "Good Alternative" ranking.
iPhone Our app brings you up-to-date recommendations for ocean-friendly seafood and sushi. And the newest version, with Project FishMap, lets you share the locations of restaurants and markets where you've found sustainable seafood. As the map grows, you'll also be able to see what others have found near you.

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