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Octopus Salad

08 August 2014 / 09:08:31  GRReporter
3940 reads

Danielle Lachana


In continuation of last week's theme of Italian food festivals ('sagre'),, of which there are many in August, today's recipe reflects the popularity, especially at this time of the year, of octopus. In the first few days of August there is a large octopus festival also in Bari, but my attention was drawn in particular to the annual (it actually starts today 8th August and ends on the 11th) 'Sagra del Polpo' festival ('polpo' is Italian for 'octopus'), in the village of Tellaro in Lerici, province of La Spezia, in the region of Liguria. 

My interest derived from the fact that this particular festival takes place in Tellaro in celebration of a legendary giant octopus (!) which is said to have saved the village, as testified also by a plaque in Latin on the church where the 'event' took place.

According to the legend, ''One stormy night, in July 1660, Saracen pirates attacked Tellaro while its inhabitants were all sleeping soundly. However, a giant octopus came out of the sea and latched onto the blown-in-the-wind ropes of the bell of the church of St George, causing it to ring loud and long. The inhabitants promptly awoke and saved  themselves by throwing boiling oil out of their windows onto the Saracens''. Hence today the villagers also use their local oil with fresh parsley and lemon juice to enhance their octopus in their celebratory dish. In the Tellaro version potatoes are used too, diced and boiled along with the octopus around half way through the octopus' cooking time, but personally, for the summer, I find this particular salad more refreshing without. Nevertheless, feel free to add 3 or 4 potatoes if you wish!






Clean and wash the octopus. If it is not already prepared, remove the ink sac and beak as described in the method here and video link

Fill a deep saucepan with water to around ¾ full, add the bay leaf, two of the cloves of garlic and a little salt. Bring to the boil then add the octopus. Leave to boil gently, partially covered, for around one hour or until the octopus is nicely softened and cooked - it is ready when the prongs of a fork enter it easily.

Remove from the heat, uncover the pan, and leave the octopus in the pan in the liquid until it is tepid. Drain it and cut into bite-sized pieces. Transfer these to a bowl.

Finely chop the remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Put them in a second bowl together with the lemon juice, oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork until combined.

Pour the dressing over the octopus and mix together well.

Leave in a cool place for at least 8 hours before serving. Garnish with green olives, if liked.

This becomes even more tasty over the following 3 to 4 days. Keep covered in the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Buon Appetito! Enjoy!

Tags: Octopus Polpo Salad Italian Mediterranean recipes Tellaro Insalata di Polpo
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