We just returned from a short vacation on the Amalfi coast, and although we wanted to visit the region for the stunning scenery, we also were looking forward to enjoying the region’s fresh seafood. It turned out that we enjoyed seafood for lunch and dinner daily, and during our five day stay in Positano, either my husband or I ate octopus every day. Octopus has always been a favorite of mine, and once I got over the idea of cleaning and cooking it, I try and prepare often. One of the octopus dishes we enjoyed on our trip at a restaurant in Marina di Praiano was a salad that combined octopus with squid, along with potatoes, tomatoes, and black olives. The salad was delicious, and one I knew that I had to replicate at home. (See Photo Of Marina di Praiano Below)
While we were in Venice the end of June, we bought some seafood at the amazing seafood market there, including one big octopus. The fish monger told us to boil it in water until knife tender, and then leave it covered in the pot for two hours. I have tried just about every way to cook an octopus you can imagine, and this method worked extremely well, giving us a very tender octopus. I had frozen that octopus as we bought too many other seafood selections at the time, and I knew from experience that frozen and thawed octopus cooks up just fine.
Yesterday I decided I was going to make my salad, so I picked up some calamari at our local grocery store, thawed out my octopus and got busy putting my salad together. To clean the calamari, simply cut off the head, remove the wings and outer skin, pull out the cartilage and anything left inside the tube. Then, cut off the tentacle section from the head and set the tentacles aside, and cut the calamari tubes into 1/2-inch rings.
Octopus must also be cleaned, so you may want to ask your fish monger to do it if you’re uncomfortable doing so yourself. Hold the head under running water to remove and discard the ink sac, stomach, and eyes. Then use a sharp knife to cut out the beak, which is found at the bottom of the head. If you buy the octopus frozen, it has already been cleaned.
The potatoes I used are Colfiorito potatoes, a wonderful red skinned potato grown here in Umbria that is very yellow inside. I combined the cooked octopus and squid with cooked, diced potatoes, ripe tomatoes from the garden, Taggiasca olives, fresh parsley leaves, and capers. To dress my salad I used lots of fresh lemon and our own extra virgin olive oil along with sea salt and cracked black pepper. I made this dish as a stand alone meal on a very hot day, because really, it has everything you need in one bowl including protein and vegetables. My husband initially asked what else I was serving, but tfter enjoying a big bowl of this salad, he agreed with me that we certainly did not need anything else. This salad would also be great served in small portions as a first course, or as a salad on a buffet table when entertaining a group.
Where we bought our octopus in Venice.
Deborah Mele 2015
Amalfi Style Octopus & Squid Salad
- 1 (3-4 Pound) Octopus
- 4 Medium Potatoes, Peeled & Diced
- 1 Pound Calamari, Cleaned & Cut Into Rings (See Notes Above)
- 1 Pound Ripe Plum Tomatoes, Diced
- 3/4 Cup Diced Celery
- 1/3 Cup Drained Taggiasca Olives (Or Kalamata)
- 2 Tablespoons Rinsed Salted Capers
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves
- Juice From 2 Lemons
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- In a large pot, place the octopus, and cover with water by 1 inch
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the octopus until it is tender when pierced with a sharp knife. (Anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.)
- Cover the pot and let sit for 2 hours.
- Remove the octopus, and cool to room temperature.
- Cut the octopus into bite sized pieces.
- Place the potatoes in a pot of lightly salted water and bring to a boil.
- Cook the potatoes until tender, about 12 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes to a colander to cool.
- Place the squid in the pot the potatoes were cooked in, and cook just for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until tender.
- Drain and set aside to cool.
- Once everything has cooled, place the octopus, squid, potatoes, tomatoes, celery, olives, capers, and parsley in a large bowl.
- Use a large spoon to gently mix.
- Squeeze the juice from the lemons over the salad, then drizzle with the olive oil.
- Season well with salt and pepper, then gently turn to mix well.
- Taste the salad and adjust dressing as needed.
- Refrigerate salad until ready to serve, mixing welts before serving.