I came up with this idea of working octopus into a salad for my Fish and Seafood dinner held last week. Salad options can (and are) limiting during the winter months but there are options. For this salad, I’ve used fennel as the main vegetable and worked in some sea asparagus or sea beans or samphire. Contact Forbes Wild Foods to see if they have any in stock.
The only similarity these greens have to asparagus in their green colour. Sea asparagus grows on rocky sea shores and a Mediterranean variety can be found in Greece called Kritamos.
Here in Canada, sea asparagus is harvested from the British Columbia coast or along the St. Lawrence shores (near the Atlantic). To eat them raw, they are crunchy yet tender and have a slight salty taste.
The crunch and briny flavour of sea asparagus is a perfect match for tender, grilled octopus. Octopus is one of my favourite foods from the sea and you should click here to see how I get my octopus so tender.
The other star of the show is the dressing – straight forward with some twists: the base is made from pickled white anchovies – a product Greek make and enjoy as an Ouzo meze. These anchovies are no as salty as the familiar Italian ones and if you have fresh anchovies, you can cure and make your own.
This is one of the best dressings you will enjoy with the briny anchovies adding an umami effect, then there’s shallots to cut the richness, wine vinegar and fresh grapefruit juice to add brightness and of course, Greek extra-virgin olive oil to bring all the flavours together, including parsley, mint and oregano.
Grilled Octopus Salad with Sea Asparagus and Fennel
for the dressing
4 white anchovies
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (or red onions)
1/4 red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 tsp. fresh chopped mint
1/4 finely diced red peppers
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of chilli flakes
for the salad
1 large bulb of fennel
1 cup of fresh sea asparagus (substitute thin shaved asparagus or green beans)
4 octopus tentacles, cooked to tender
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
1/4 cup of pickled sliced red onions*
- In a food processor, add the anchovies, shallots, vinegar, mustard, juice and honey and process until thick and smooth. Now slowly add the olive oil until you’ve achieved a thick yet smooth dressing. Now add the finely chopped herbs, red peppers and pulse. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, reserve in a jar.
- Remove the root from the fennel and shave thinly with a mandoline and place in a large bowl. Add the sea asparagus and set aside.
- To pickle your onions, place in a small bowl and sprinkle 1/2 tsp. of salt sugar and cover with red wine vinegar. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. Drain liquid, reserve.
- Grill your octopus tentacles until charred on both sides (1 minute/side) and cut into fork-sized bites.
- Add the octopus, chickpeas into the salad bowl along with some dressing and toss. Taste, add more dressing as per your liking.
- Divide and plate, top with some pickled red onions and serve. Pair with a Boutari Agiotghitiko red.
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