It all started with some fresh cranberry beans. Well, okay, let me back up a bit.  It actually started with the memory of a wonderful dish I had at the La Boqueria in Barcelona — Squid and White Beans with Balamic Reduction. A rather unusual breakfast, on my first day in Barcelona.

So when I spotted these distinctively colored, fresh beans at my local farmers’ market the other day, I immediately thought about recreating this dish.

If you’ve ever been to Barcelona and enjoy food, then you’ve probably paid a visit to La Boqureria. And, if you’ve stopped at La Boqueria for a bite (and, of course, to stock up on jamon iberico bellota), there’s a good chance you’ve run across the famous (and always jovial) Juanito, proprietor of Bar Pinotxo.

Bar Pinotxo was my first stop during a three-week stay in Spain.  Breakfast at Pinotxo consisted of baby squid and white beans, chickpeas with black sausage (aka morcilla), and a glass of cava. What better way to start the day!


I hadn’t thought about that meal in a while; that was until the other night, when I was watching an episode of From Spain with Love.  The host, Annie Sibonney, was at La Boqueria having breakfast at Pinotxo and was lucky enough to observe one of the chefs in action as he prepared several of the bar’s beloved dishes.

Despite the incredible depth of flavor, these dishes are easy to prepare.  And, it doesn’t hurt to have some of the freshest ingredients and seafood at your disposal.  These dishes are meant to be prepared quickly, within minutes, to accommodate the masses of people that pass through this market every day.  A much more elevated form of fast food than we are accustomed to here in the States.

Despite the lack of impeccably fresh seafood, at least here in Washington, DC, you can still reproduce this dish with much success.  In place of baby squid, you can use larger squid and slice them into roughly 1/2″ rings (use the tentacles as well).  Other than that, all you need are beans (dried or fresh), fresh parsley, balsamic reduction, sea salt, and oil.

The brininess from the squid plays nicely against the sweetness from the reduced balsamic vinegar.

Squid and White Beans with Balsamic Reduction

3/4 pound squid (bodies and tentacles)
1 1/2 cup cooked white beans (dried or fresh)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt to taste
balsamic reduction (recipe below)

To cook fresh beans, cover the shelled beans with water in a 3 or 4-quart pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for approx. 20 minutes until soft.  Drain and season with salt.

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat.  When hot, add the squid.  Cook briefly, just a couple minutes, until cooked through.  Add the chopped parsley, beans, and saute another minute.  Place in a serving dish. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Reduction

It’s really easy to make your own balsamic reduction.  Pour the entire bottle of balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced by 75%. Let cool and then, using a funnel, pour the contents into a squeeze bottle.  Store in the refrigerator.  If it gets too cool, warm the bottle in some warm water before using.

I’ve seen balsamic reduction already prepared in the grocery store, but it’s typically filled with all sorts of unwanted ingredients (i.e., HFCS, xatham gum, caramel coloring).

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