While visiting my daughters in the Washington, D.C. area, I made a trip to the local seafood market. Really fresh seafood is hard to come by in the mountains of North Carolina, where my husband and I spend our summers. I was instantly intoxicated by the variety of fish and crustaceans exhibited, including the octopus. Octopus salad makes for an easy summer meal, either warm or cold; but the warm octopus and potato salad is my favorite. There are so many textures and flavors that come into play with just one bite – the chewiness of the octopus; the creaminess of the potatoes; the crunchiness of the celery and onion; the saltiness of the capers and olives; the earthiness of the herbs; and the tanginess of the dressing.
OCTOPUS AND POTATO SALAD
Insalata di Purpo e Patate/ Insalata di Polpo e Patate
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 6 servings.
1 (3 pound) octopus, cleaned
1 wine cork
2 bay leaves
3 medium gold or white potatoes
2 stalks of celery from heart, including leaves, chopped
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup sliced, pitted green olives
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
COOK THE OCTOPUS: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the cork, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Holding the octopus from the head, dip the tentacles 3 times for 5 seconds in the boiling water first then add the entire octopus. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender when pierced with a fork at the thickest part.
BOIL THE POTATOES: Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, then peel and cut into bite-size pieces. Place in a bowl and cover to keep the potatoes warm.
MAKE THE SALAD: Using tongs or a large fork, remove the octopus and drain.
Cut the octopus into 1-inch pieces with kitchen shears or a knife, including the head, and place in a large bowl.
Add the potatoes, celery, onion, olives, capers, parsley, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix the olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the warm octopus and potatoes and toss to combine.