Spicy Squid Salad with Watercress and Lima Beans

In this simplified version of one of Jan Birnbaum's signature dishes, the large lima beans need to soak overnight, so plan accordingly.Plus: More Seafood Recipes and Tips

Spicy Squid Salad with Watercress and Lima Beans
Photo: © Anna Williams
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
13 hrs


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

  • 1/2 habanero chile, seeded and minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1 1/4 pounds cleaned squid, bodies cut into 1/4-inch-thick rings and large tentacles halved

  • 1/2 pound dried large lima beans, soaked overnight and drained

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 4 thin strips of lean bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 2 teaspoons Jan's Spice Mix

  • 1/2 cup Calamata olives, pitted and halved

  • Lemon–Shallot Vinaigrette

  • 1 pound watercress, large stems discarded (12 packed cups)


  1. In a large glass baking dish, combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil with the garlic, jalapeño, habanero and lemon zest. Add the squid and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lima beans with 2 inches of water. Add the bay leaf, cover partially and simmer over low heat until the beans are tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the beans stand in their cooking liquid. Drain just before using and discard the bay leaf.

  3. In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate. Increase the heat to high and cook the bacon fat until sizzling. Add the squid and its marinade in an even layer and cook, without stirring, until the squid begins to turn white, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the spice mix over the squid and cook, stirring, until just tender, about 1 minute. Gently fold in the bacon, lima beans and olives and cook just until warmed through. Stir in half of the Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette and remove from the heat.

  4. In a large bowl, toss the watercress with the remaining vinaigrette and transfer to plates. Top with the warm squid salad and serve at once.

Make Ahead

The lima beans can be refrigerated overnight in their cooking liquid. Bring them to room temperature before draining and proceeding.

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