I had my epiphany moment with octopus back in 1983 when I sat with my uncles in Greece at a seafood taverna outside of Thessaloniki. Plates upon plates of seafood arrived, one of which was octopus. They were eating it, there was no going for souvlaki or gyro and I was hungry. Tasted octopus and loved it!
Fast forward to 1988, my first visit to Santorini, some call the “jewel of the Mediterranean” and for the first time I taste Santorini fava. Here in the west we know fava as yellow split peas and in Quebec they make a soup out of it. In Santorini, it’s a dip or even served in place of mashed potatoes. It’s savory, a little sweet, works wonderfully with bay and thyme, minced onions and Greek olive oil bring out the flavours wonderfully.
Grilled Octopus With Santorini Fava
For the fava
1 cup yellow split peas
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
6 oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 garlic cloves
1/4 finely chopped red onions
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the octopus
4 tentacles of braised/tender octopus
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. minced capers
salt and pepper to taste
dried Greek oregano
- In a large saucepan, combine the split peas with the onion, bay leaf and 4 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the split peas are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the split peas and discard the bay leaf.
- In a food processor, pulse the sun-dried tomatoes with the vinegar, garlic, oregano until minced. Add the split peas. With the machine on, slowly pour in the 1/2 cup of olive oil and process until a smooth paste forms. Season with salt and pepper add red onions, stir in. Transfer the dip to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, more minced red onions.
- Pre-heat your grill to high (or if you don’t have a grill, set your oven to broil). Toss the octopus in olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Once your grill is hot (or broiler) sear both sides of octopus until just crisp and transfer to a plate.
- Divide and place fava on plates and top with grilled octopus and spoon over dressing. Garnish with Greek oregano, capers and grilled lemon. Serve with good crusty bread and a bottle of chilled Argyros Atlantis white.
Want to join me on a gastronomic tour of Santorini and Crete? Read more here.
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