Adapting a long-lost Heston Blumenthal recipe to make a great easy dinner packed with flavour and umami.


Ever since completing our In Search of Perfection project we’ve been taking it a lot easier with the Heston Blumenthal recipes. That’s not to say we’re going soft, and don’t have any elaborate projects planned, we’re just relaxing and coasting for a while.

One of our favourite pastimes is delving into Heston’s recipe archive, finding obscure treasures from books like Family Food or Guardian articles from over ten years ago. This reminded us of a favourite dish of ours, Heston’s Marinated Squid with Parmesan. It’s a dish we’ve made a few times, and it ticks plenty of the Heston Blumenthal recipe boxes, with its unusual ingredient pairings and food science foundations. heston-blumenthal-umami-recipe-marinated-squid-parmesan-01

Packed with the kind of big flavours you’d usually expect from a Jamie Oliver recipe, Heston’s Marinated Squid with Parmesan recipe is a gorgeous, summery picnic dish, rich with umami and delicious with good, crusty bread to help soak up the oil.

We got to thinking that this might make as good a warm dish as it does a cold one. And that, inspired by our recent pasta adventures, gnocchi might be the perfect pairing.



Recipes: Heston’s Marinated Squid with Parmesan recipe

Special Equipment: None
Special Ingredients: None
Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Serves: 2
Difficulty: Easy


Step 1: Chargrilled Pepper


I’m a dreadful faffer. Give me a five minute job and I will do it in twenty. More if you give me the opportunity. It’s why half those In Search of Perfection recipes didn’t get finished until 3am.

It’s a failing I’m aware of, which is why I follow about two-dozen life hacker feeds – I am desperate to claw some of that precious time back, and crafty tricks help with that.


Case in point: Grilling red peppers. Where once I’d have dirtied the grill pan and several bowls and chopping boards now we just hack the tops of the peppers, slice down to get a few meaty pieces and keep cooking them in the toaster until they’re nicely blackened.


You don’t even need to mess around with clingfilm or Ziploc bags to steam them so the skins loosen – just pop em in a bowl and put a small plate on top. (But if you wanna cut down on the washing up by all means tie them up in a sandwich bag. The only fiddly part will be stripping the slimy skins off.

Step 2: Making the Marinade

Since we’re serving this warm our marinade will be cooked and layered up in the pan. Beware; it uses an awful lot of olive oil. Start with loads of that, and your ginger, chillies and garlic.


Next up red onion, which we like sliced as finely as possible…


… and finally those charred peppers, lemon zest and half of the lemon juice.


Step 3: Searing the Squid

We buy frozen squid by the kilo so we always have it to hand. Sure, fresh is better. But this way we can get our squid fix any time of day or night. Plus, with the frozen stuff prep is a lot easier.


The sliced and scored squid needs to be seared in a hot pan as briefly as possible. Any longer than a minute or two and it’ll go tough and rubbery. Be brave, we believe in you.


Step 4: Gnocchi

Sure, all of you gourmands could make your own feather-light and delicate gnocchi. Maybe even infuse them with herbs and what-knot to give this dish even more flavour.


But we’ve already established how hopelessly lazy the insearchofheston gang can be, and our fondness for trashy mass-market foods, so we’re proudly and unashamedly using ready-made supermarket gnocchi (although at least not the super-stodgy stuff you’d find on the same aisle as the dried pasta).

Step 5: Assembly


Stir the squid and oil mixture through the gnocchi. In Heston’s original recipe you’d top your squid with parmesan shavings, but we’re finely grating ours, so it’ll be more evenly distributed.


To make the dish look nice and pretty you can scatter on more herbs and parmesan just before serving. We also like to drizzle on the other half of the lemon juice at this point, so you get fresh as well as cooked lemon flavours.


Congratulations, your adaptation of Heston’s Marinated Squid and Parmesan Gnocchi is ready.


Oily as hell, but damn this was good.

Of course, we’re bound to say that, since the ingredients list is basically a pick-n’-mix of all our favourite flavours. And the squid and parmesan combo gives you heaps of savoury umami.


A word of warning – we always though sun dried tomatoes would be a great addition to this dish. In theory they would be, but in practice their own added herbs and oils interfere with the taste of the dish. If you have any slow roasted tomatoes of your own that’s fine, but jar or deli counter ones can easily ruin this dish.

It might not be truly a Heston Blumenthal recipe, and with all that oil and starch it’s most definitely not healthy, but this dish is so tasty and easy that we absolutely cannot fault it.


We’d probably go a bit easier on the oil, as the quantities in Heston’s original recipe are way too much for the gnocchi. Otherwise this dish is perfect for us.

Further Reading

Heston’s original umami article and squid and parmesan recipe in the Guardian

Our first attempt at Heston’s marinated squid with parmesan