This Hearty Octopus Salad is packed with rich flavor and the unique taste and texture of fresh octopus. It’s an Italian classic that’s too good to ignore!
If someone had told me when I was younger that octopus would become one of my favorite types of seafood, I would have thought that they were crazy. Over the years however, I have learned to love octopus, and I order it often when we are dining out at a seafood restaurant and cook it myself at home as well. I am now a big fan of octopus, and I’ve been thrilled to notice that the fresh seafood counter at our local grocery store here in Umbria has begun to sell octopus fairly regularly this year.
I prefer to cook with fresh seafood, but octopus is one item I’ll make an exception for, and I will buy it frozen. I find that the freezing and thawing process actually tenderizes the meat, releasing much of its liquid. I still boil it, but the cooking period can be significantly reduced. It’s worth noting that octopus loses a lot of volume during this process, so its best to buy more than you think you’ll need; when cooked, it can be reduced to as much as half its original size.
Octopus must also be cleaned, so you may want to ask your fish monger to do it if you’re uncomfortable doing so yourself. Hold the head under running water to simply remove and discard the ink sac, stomach, and eyes. Then use a sharp knife to cut out the beak, which is found at the bottom of the head. If you buy the octopus frozen, it has already been cleaned.
- 1 3 Pound Octopus
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Cup White Wine
- 1 Tablespoon Peppercorns
- 2 Cloves Garlic Peeled
- 2 Large Potatoes Peeled & Cut Into 1½ Inch Cubes
- 1½ Cups Halved Cherry Tomatoes
- ¼ Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives Halved
- 1½ Tablespoons Capers
- ¼ Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- ? Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- In a large pot, place the octopus along with the wine, peppercorns, 1 lemon cut in half, cork, and garlic.
- Cover with water by 1 inch and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the octopus until it is tender when pierced with a sharp knife. (Anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.)
- Drain, and allow the octopus to come to room temperature.
- While the octopus is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat, and cook the potatoes until fork tender.
- Drain, and allow to come to room temperature.
- Cut the octopus into 1½-inch pieces and place in a bowl along with the cooled potatoes, tomatoes, olives, capers, and parsley.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.
- Gently toss to mix, then serve on a platter.
Deborah Mele is a self-taught cook whose passion for Italian cuisine began after living in Milan, Italy for 8 years. Although not Italian by birth, she became a true Italian by heart and palate. Deborah created her Italian recipe blog ItalianFoodForever.com 12 years ago to share her passion for Italian food. During her various travels throughout Italy, Deborah fell in love with the central Italian region of Umbria so when they retired, Deborah and her husband bought two farmhouses there where they now reside for six months a year and run a farmhouse rental for guests and give cooking classes.