While a little bit of a time and attention commitment, a good fritto misto will make you a star at the table! Here is a recipe I modified with my notes from above:

  • 2 to 3 quarts vegetable oil
  • 4 cleaned whole squid (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound cleaned smelts
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 3 portabella mushroom caps
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute equal parts matzo meal and panko, finely processed together)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 lemons (1 sliced very thin;
  • the other cut into wedges)
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
  • 1 large handful fresh parsley leaves,
  • plus chopped parsley for sprinkling
  • 1 small handful fresh rosemary leaves

Fill a large Dutch oven or pot about halfway with oil. Begin to heat the oil over medium heat but don’t let it get ripping until you have everything else ready to go.

Separate bodies and tentacles of the squid. If squid are big, cut tentacles in half. Cut squid bodies open so they lie flat, cut into 1/4-inch-thick, 1 1/2-inch-long strips. Soak squid in the milk while you prepare the rest of the fritto misto.

Trim ends off zucchini and slice lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick, cut into 1 1/2-inch-long sticks. Slice mushroom caps into 1/4 inch slices.

On a sheet pan or large platter, combine the flour, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Have the sliced lemon, garlic, parsley and rosemary prepared and nearby. Cut open a clean brown paper bag and line a platter (or paper towels).

Increase the heat of the oil until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Meanwhile, drain the squid and, with smelt and vegetables, toss in the flour. Shake baking sheet back and forth to coat.

Once oil is up to temperature, add a quarter of the floured goods, plus a few of the lemon and garlic slices, and let cook for about 1 minute. Add about a quarter of the rosemary and the parsley and continue to cook until the vegetables and seafood are a light golden brown, another 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spider or a Chinese strainer (or a slotted spoon), transfer fried foods to lined platter to drain. Season with more salt and chopped parsley and serve with the lemon wedges.

Serve this immediately while it’s hot to waiting guests and keep going–they will be back for more.