I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago for my Aroma Messinia Greek Supper Club and it was a big hit. A successful dish delivers when it catches the eye, it’s presented well and it tastes great. What I’ve done here is take some ingredients used often by Greeks and use them in a different way…different combo.
The base of this salad is octopus. We used other seafood in salads, why not octopus? Here, I’ve braised octopus until tender and once cooled, I separate the tentacles and then lay them out on large piece of plastic wrap and tightly roll up into a log. Then I tightly wrap with elastic bands or butcher’s twine and place in a fridge. The next day, I unwrap the plastic and thinly slice the sausage of octopus. You get a cross section of the octopus that looks like a mosaic. Stunning!
The next component of the salad is the dressing. It’s unusual but delicious and I know you’re going to try it: beet vinaigrette/dressing. Yes, beets….be it boiled or roasted or if you’re in a rush…canned. They all work! This dressing starts off by pureeing the beets in a food processor then adding some mustard, scallions or chives, red wine vinegar, touch of honey, salt and pepper and a slow stream of extra-virgin olive oil. Two herbs accent this dressing: earthy fresh thyme for some bottom end and chopped fresh dill to lift the flavours .
Finally, the salad is brought together with shaved asparagus. Snip the tips and use a vegetable peeler to shave thin slices of asparagus. With a little planning, place the shaved asparagus in cold water and place your fridge for couple of hours in the fridge – they will curl up for an even nicer effect.
Octopus Mosaic With Shaved Asparagus Salad
1 bunch of fresh asparagus
1/4 cup chopped cooked beets
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
orange segments for garnish
Kalamata olives for garnish
- The night before, after you’ve braised your octopus, separate the tentacles. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap on your counter and place the tentacles on the plastic. Roll-up the plastic tightly around the octopus and twist the ends to tighten even further. Wrap lots of elastic bands around the tube of octopus or tie up with butcher’s twine. Place in the fridge overnight to set.
- The next day, cut off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard. Now cut the tips of the stalks and slice in half, reserve. Now use your vegetable peeler to make long thin shavings of your asparagus stalks (optional, place them in a bowl of cold water and into the fridge for a couple of hours to curl up). Take your asparagus out of fridge and drain well/pat dry and reserve.
- To make your dressing, place the beets and garlic in a food processor and purée. Empty into a jar then add the remaining ingredients (except for the garnishes) and seal with a lid and shake well to emulsify. Open jar, adjust seasoning to taste.
- Remove the wrapping from your octopus and thinly slice it with a sharp knife. Place about three slices on each plate and set aside. Place your shaved asparagus and reserved tips in a bowl and add enough dressing to just coat the vegetables and toss gently with your hands. Place a mound of dressed asparagus on top of the octopus and top with orange slice and olive.
- Serve with a Tselepos Mantinia Moschfilero.
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