After the official start of summer last week and the looming economic uncertainty thanks to Brexit and the US Presidential elections, we are missing the seaside and the tranquility it elicits. Many resort to staring at screensavers of the beach but I opt instead for cooking seafood and sitting in the sun.
Of all the seafood salads, my favourite is octopus and potato. It is very simple and costs little to make but is meaty and delicious. Some small children had the misfortune of an impromptu play date at my house one day when I was making it. While they were fascinated with the suction cups, we didn’t manage to get them to eat more than a bite (on a dare). However, their mother must thank us as it must have made their roast chicken supper seem innocuous in comparison. I am guessing our house has declined dramatically in popularity for play dates.
In Liguria, we eat this salad quite a lot. Locals swear by boiling the octopus with a wine cork to tenderise the meat (as opposed to beating the poor creature over rocks). I have to say it works a trick for me.
And if you feel like your life is being taking hostage by play dates, this may just be the recipe for you….
Polpo e patate (octopus and potato salad) – Liguria
1 kilo octopus with short tentacles
5 grams flat leaf parsley, rinsed, dried, leaves removed and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
10 black olives, pitted
500 grams waxy potatoes, skinned and cut into 1.5 cm dice
1/2 lemon, juiced
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 wine cork
Cut out the eyes and make an incision to open the sac and clean it out. Turn the octopus upside down to find the mouth. Cut in a circle to remove the beak. Rinse the octopus, making sure to rub out any grit in the suction cups.
Fill a large pot with water. Add the octopus and the wine cork and bring it to a boil. After 20 minutes, add the potatoes. Boil for another 20 minutes.
Remove the octopus and drain the potatoes. When the octopus is cool enough to handle, cut it into 1.5 cm pieces. Mix the potatoes, octopus, parsley, garlic, olives, lemon juice together, adding olive oil to coat and salt to taste. Serve tepid or cold.