I am a big fan of octopus, but it has to be cooked properly. If not, it is similar to poorly cooked calamari and can have the texture of rubbery bubble gum. Over the years I have tried many methods of cooking octopus. These include cooking it in a mixture of wine and water with a wine cork, in a pressure cooker, and I have to admit that I even attempted to tenderize it first by putting it in the spin cycle of my washing machine to replicate how fishermen beat the octopus against the rocks. All of these methods did create an excellent tender octopus, but it wasn’t until I was told by a fish monger at the fish market in Venice how to cook octopus his way, was I able to prepare the octopus of my dreams. (See Method Below)
I often serve octopus in the traditional way with potatoes, alongside other seafood, or simply by itself as an appetizer with some lemon. About a month ago my husband and I were at a local Florida restaurant that served typical American Bistro food, and they had octopus and white beans on the menu. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much because I have had some pretty poorly cooked octopus in the States, but I just had to give it a try. Surprisingly, the octopus was very tender, and I found that the creamy beans were a perfect compliment to the octopus. The dish was served just warm, which brought out the flavors nicely. The only problem I had with the dish at all, was that it wasn’t seasoned! Luckily, there was both salt and pepper on the table, so I rectified that problem quickly.
The beans used in this recipe are the large white beans i find here in Italy, called fagiole bianchi di Spagna. Cannellini beans would work just fine in place of these larger white beans however if you cannot find the beans I used. My husband likes his octopus to have some color, so we usually grill or broil it briefly after cooking it. This extra step does tighten up the octopus a bit however, so feel free to skip this dish if you want the most tender octopus. This dish is plenty to serve as an appetizer for six, or as a main course for four people.
Deborah Mele 2017
Octopus With White Beans
Tender octopus served warm with creamy white beans as an appetizer or main course.
1 (3-4 Pound) Octopus, Cleaned
1 (14 Ounce) Can White Beans (See Notes Above)
Chopped Fresh Parsley
Extra Virgin 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 60 minutes.)
- Cover the pot and let sit off of the heat for 2 hours.
- Remove the octopus, and cool to room temperature.
- Cut the tentacles from the head, and cut the head into strips. (You may want to remove the skin from the head first)
- Place the octopus pieces in a bowl with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- If grilling or broiling the octopus, do so now, for just a couple of minutes until the octopus meat begins to brown.
- Keep Warm.
- Drain the beans in a sieve, and rinse under cold water, then shake to dry.
- Place the beans in a small pot and warm gently with a teaspoon or two of olive oil.
- Season with salt, pepper, and two teaspoons of finely chopped fresh parsley.
- Arrange the octopus and beans either on one large platter, or on individual plates.
- Drizzle with a little more olive oil, and serve warm with lemon wedges.