Octopus and Potato Salad (Insalata di Polipo e Patate)
This dish can be served warm— toss the salad while the potatoes are still warm or at room temperature— but not cold. It is great as part of a buffet, as a first course, or as a rustic entrée if you have a tableful of octopus lovers. It is a perfect dish to bring to a potluck dinner, but be sure not to dress with the oil and lemon juice too far in advance of serving.
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Total time: 2 Hours, 15 Minutes
Yield: Serves 6, or more as part of an antipasto buffet
- 2½-pound cleaned octopus
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferable Sicilian on the branch
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 medium red onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1½ pounds russet potatoes
- 1 cup coarsely chopped marinated artichoke hearts
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Put the octopus in a pot where it will fit snugly. Scatter in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add a cup of water, and bring to a bare simmer. Cover tightly, and cook until octopus is very tender when pierced with a fork, about 2 hours. (Add more water, as necessary, throughout the cooking time, to keep an inch of liquid or more in the bottom of the pan, up to 2 cups more water in all.)
- While the octopus cooks, bring 2 cups water and the vinegar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the red onion, and simmer until it droops but still has some bite to it, about 5 minutes. Drain. In the meantime, in another saucepan, simmer the potatoes whole until tender, about 25 minutes or so, depending on size. Drain. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1-inch chunks.
- When the octopus is done, cool slightly and cut into 1-to-2-inch pieces. In a large serving bowl, combine the octopus, red onion, potatoes, and artichoke hearts. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil, and toss. Season with salt, and sprinkle with the parsley. Toss and serve.