Cuttlefish and orzo salad

Serves 4
  • @HixRestaurants

I'm still campaigning to use more cuttlefish; we land loads of the stuff on our coasts, most of which gets shipped off to countries like Spain and France. It's most certainly on a par with squid and you can even crumb and deep-fry it.

400g cleaned weight of cuttlefish
1-2tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g orzo
A handful of flat parsley leaves shredded and mixed with any celery leaves you have to hand (see below)

For the sauce

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
4-5 sticks of celery, any stringy stalks peeled, cut into rough 1cm pieces (reserve the leaves for garnish)
A couple of sprigs of oregano or marjoram, chopped
4-5tbsp olive oil
1 x 225g can of chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp caster sugar
75ml white wine vinegar
40g salted capers, rinsed in cold water
12 large green olives, stoned and quartered

Separate the tentacles from the cuttlefish and halve them lengthways if they are large, then cut the body into rough 2-3cm-thin strips. Heat a little of the olive oil in a frying pan, season the cuttlefish and fry on a high heat for a few minutes, giving them a light colour, then put to one side.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently cook the onion, celery and marjoram for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the tomatoes and tentacles, season and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the sugar and vinegar in a saucepan for a minute, then add to the tomato mixture. Add the cuttlefish with about 150ml water, cover the pan with a lid and simmer very gently for about 20-30 minutes, topping up with water if it's getting dry, or until the cuttlefish is tender. Add the capers and olives, simmer for another 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. The sauce shouldn't be too wet but just liquidy enough to coat the pasta.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water, according to the manufacturer's instructions, then drain and refresh briefly under a cold tap. Mix the orzo with the cuttlefish sauce and re-season if necessary; serve at room temperature scattered with the shredded celery and parsley leaves.