What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide

As a seafood lover, you know there is nothing better than fresh and fried calamari. Salt and pepper calamari is one of the most famous seafood dishes in the world. It is healthy while being very delicious too. You can have it as a snack, or you serve and can eat it with other dishes.

However, what to serve with salt and pepper calamari? There are many choices when it comes to this dish. You can serve it with:

  • A variety of delicious dipping sauces
  • Vegetables and Salad
  • Great choices of pasta, potatoes, rice, bread, and many others.
What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide

Now, what makes people love salt and pepper calamari? If you’re looking for something new and different, these are great dipping sauces and side dishes that will be perfect with your calamari!

What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari

What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide
Calamari, French Fries, and Tartar sauce. Credit: canva

French Fries

Let’s start with a classic! French fries are the perfect side dish because they provide a crunchy contrast to the soft squid. Plus, they’re easy to make, and everyone loves them!

Heat some frozen french fries in the oven according to the package directions. Then, season them with salt and pepper to taste.

A Simple Green Salad

what to serve with salt and pepper calamari
Salt and Pepper Calamari with Fresh Green Salad. Credit: canva

A salad is always a good idea! The salad provides a refreshing contrast to the rich, spicy flavors of the calamari, and its light texture helps to cleanse the palate between bites.

The salad and the calamari are healthy options that can be enjoyed without feeling guilty.

Some of my favorite combinations are:

  • Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, blue cheese crumbles
  • Romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • Spinach leaves, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, goat cheese crumbles.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta in a Bean Soup)

What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide
Pasta e Fagioli. Credit: canva

This hearty Italian favorite features pasta and beans, which pair well. The soup’s creamy texture can help cut through the calamari’s saltiness and give you more balance so that your palate doesn’t get too overwhelmed by spice.

Some possible additions include ground sausage, kale or spinach, fresh herbs like rosemary or basil, and Parmesan cheese.

Risotto Milanese or Champagne Risotto

What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide
Risotto. Credit: canva

Risotto is a creamy rice dish that pairs well with just about anything.

Both versions feature rice cooked in broth, which helps to soak up the flavors from the calamari while remaining light enough to enjoy more than one helping.

The difference is that Champagne risotto is made with champagne instead of broth, while Milanese uses beef broth.

For this particular dish, we recommend using arborio rice, a short-grain rice commonly used in risotto recipes.

Cook the rice according to the package directions. Then, stir in parmesan cheese and butter until it’s fully incorporated.

The risotto also pairs well with white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wines like Champagne.

Roasted Vegetables

What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide
Roasted vegetables. Credit: canva

Roasted vegetables are a great way to sneak some extra nutrients into your meal:

  1. Toss some chopped vegetables (we like mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, and onions) with olive oil.
  2. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them in a preheated oven until they’re tender (usually about 20-30 minutes).
  3. Serve them alongside the calamari as a healthy side dish option.

Garlic Bread

What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide
Garlic bread. Credit: canva

Garlic bread is another classic side dish with just about anything.

To make garlic bread:

  1. Start by slicing a loaf of bread into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Spread each piece of bread with butter or margarine. Then, sprinkle on some garlic powder or minced garlic cloves.
  3. Place the garlic bread slices on a baking sheet and bake them in a preheated oven until they’re crispy and golden brown (usually about 10-15 minutes).
  4. Serve them alongside the calamari as soon as they come out of the oven!

Dipping Sauces

What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide
Calamari with Marinara Sauce. Credit: canva

Here are some sauces that go well with salt and pepper calamari:

  • Tomato Sauce
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Pesto sauce
  • Grilled Lemon Salsa (available in the grocery store) or a fresh lemon salsa of your preference. And most importantly, put plenty of chopped parsley on top! Parsley is an excellent addition to this dish.

Best Vegetables

Plenty of veggies can be served with salt and pepper calamari. Here is a list:

  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms – Shiitake, Portabella, Oyster (for seafood lovers) or any other kind you like the most. Also, it goes well with green beans.

What is Calamari?

About Calamari

The most common (and accepted) explanation is that calamari (which means “squid” in Italian) is simply the culinary name of dishes containing squid.

Fried squid is a typical food in the Mediterranean. In Lebanon and Syria, it is usually served with tartar sauce. It is sold at fish and chip shops in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and South Africa.

Calamari is found in the Mediterranean, and it can also be found as a salt and pepper fried dish in Asia. It is usually eaten as a bar snack, street food, or starter dish.

Squid can be prepared in many different ways. In some countries, they eat squid raw. Some people also use it to make sushi, sashimi, and tempura food. Squid can also be grilled, stuffed, or covered with batter before cooking it. It can also be cooked in gravy and stir-fried.

Shredded dried squid is a snack people eat in Asia, including East Asia.

Calamari Vs. Squid: What’s the Difference?

Squid for Calamari. Credit: canva

Some people believe that calamari is just the fancier name for squid. This is a common assumption.

People used to think that squid was not very lovely food. And people thought that it was hard to eat because it was challenging. But now, people know that squid tastes good.

The difference is minimal. Calamari is a type of giant squid. But there are also other types of squid.

Squid is generally Nototodarus gouldi, also known as Gould’s squid, but the type called Teuthoidea is also targeted. Calamari comes from the genus Sepioteuthis. The word “sepia” comes from their ink.

Both squids species have an ink sack for self-defense and side fins. But the squid’s fins are short, and calamari’s are full-length bodies.

Thirdly, squids have flaps that are shaped like arrows and are at the end of their body. These are different than the flaps on calamari which are like triangles.

Lastly, calamari is also generally more tender than squid. So people prefer to cook calamari.

How to Prepare

What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Calamari: A Comprehensive Guide
Calamari with Breaded Button Mushroom. Credit: canva

What is the Dish?

Salt & pepper calamari is a dish of fried squid that is generally sprinkled with salt, black peppercorn, chili peppers, egg whites, and bread crumbs. It is usually served with lemon wedges.

How to Make

To make salt & pepper calamari, you will need the following:

  • squid pieces/calamari pieces
  • plain flour (all-purpose flour)
  • cornstarch (optional)
  • black pepper or white pepper
  • chili peppers (optional)
  • green onion finely chopped (optional)
  • egg whites
  • bread crumbs
  • kosher salt or sea salt
  • lemon wedges for serving (optional)
  • vegetable oil


  1. Place the squid bodies on a slotted spoon or in a colander to drain. Pat the squid dry with kitchen paper or a kitchen towel.
  2. Dust the calamari with flour, then shakes off excess (some people use flour with cornstarch for crispy pieces).Dip squid in beaten egg to coat.
  3. Mix the bread crumbs, black pepper, chili pepper, and a pinch of salt in a shallow bowl—coat with the seasoned flour on both sides.
  4. Half fill the skillet with oil to deep fry. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot enough to sizzle when you drop the first piece of calamari. Or you can use a deep fryer.
  5. Cook calamari in batches at a time for even cooking. Cooking time on each side is around 2-3 minutes or until golden color.
  6. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels, if necessary.
  7. If desired, sprinkle with chili peppers before serving. Serve immediately with lemon wedges for squeezing over the cooked calamari, or serve in a sauce of your choice.


The ways to prepare and cook salt and pepper are similar to preparing calamari. However, since squid is a bit tough and more complicated than calamari, it takes more time and some tricks to make it tender.

Some insist you can make squid as tender as calamari by marinating it with kiwi fruit. Try buying smaller squid, chopping up their fins and tentacles and stuffing these back into the hood with breadcrumbs, and slowly cooking in a tomato and garlic sauce. The slow cooking tenderizes the squid’s flesh.

How to Serve with Salt and Pepper Squid

How to Serve

calamari with seafood pasta
Fried Calamari with Seafood Pasta. Credit: canva
  • With rice
  • Pasta or noodles – spaghetti, linguini, fettuccine (we recommend whole wheat pasta)
  • Bread with olive oil and garlic
  • Steamed vegetables – zucchini, carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower. You can also serve spinach instead of these veggies if you like it better.

If you want to make a meal with salt and pepper calamari, we recommend serving the dish with pasta (whole wheat is recommended) and steamed vegetables.

Side Dishes

Here are just two ideas for side dishes to serve with salt and pepper calamari:

  • A simple green salad
  • Asian salad
  • Pasta e Fagioli (pasta in a bean soup)
  • Risotto Milanese or Champagne Risotto
  • Marinated cold Cucumber Salad, which can be made ahead of time. You will need to marinate it for at least an hour before serving it with some olive oil, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.

Tips for Buying Calamari

How to Buy

The best calamari is found in the refrigerated section of your seafood market. When picking it out, ensure no cuts or bruises and that the color looks good. The flesh should be white all the way through without any brown spots.

How to Store

If you buy it fresh, ensure the calamari is tightly wrapped, so it doesn’t dry out. If your market does not wrap it up, do this with plastic wrap and then put a tight lid on top of the container.

If you want to store it for a day or two, ensure the container is tightly sealed and refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.


Is calamari a squid or octopus?

Many people confuse octopus with calamari, but these two dishes have different tastes and cooking methods.

Why do they call it calamari?

The word calamari was borrowed into English from 17th-century Italian, where it functioned as the plural of “calamaro” or “calamaio,” which comes from Medieval Latin noun calamarium meaning “inkpot or pen case.”

Why is calamari so expensive?

Prices for squid have been going up. With the state of resources and demand, there will be very tight supplies and rising prices for squid.

How do you tenderize calamari before frying?

To make squid less chewy, soak it in lemon juice or kiwi fruit juice for 30 minutes before cooking it. You can also soak the squid in milk overnight.

How long does calamari take to cook?

It is best to cook calamari for 30-45 minutes in boiling water, testing its texture with a fork every 15 minutes until it’s tender. I love using this method as the first cooking stage as it helps soften my calamari before finishing it in a pan or on the grill.

Is squid bad for arthritis?

DHA-rich oils, like calamari oil, may also help to reduce female platelet aggregation. Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood have been linked with soothing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

See also: Beetroot Hamburger Recipe: Aussie Style Burgers.

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