45 mins-1¼ hours
- 1-1.5kg cleaned octopus
- 1-2 red chillies, sliced in half
- 4 cloves of garlic, whole but crushed
- 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley
- ½ tsp salt
- 150ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 x 660g jar of butter beans, drained
- 6 piquillo peppers (about 100g), sliced
- 2 lemons, cut into segments
This is a dish for which you can get everything ready in advance, leaving just the charring of the octopus on the barbecue until the last minute – a real show stopper.
Freezing the octopus will help tenderise the flesh, but be sure that it is completely thawed before cooking. Cut the tentacles off just below the eyes and then cut the head away from just above. Throw away the eye section and push your little finger through the centre of the tentacles to remove the little thorn-like beak.
Take a small saucepan and pack in the octopus’ head and tentacles with the chillies, garlic, parsley stalks (keeping the leaves for the salad), salt and the olive oil. The octopus should be almost covered by oil. Cover and place the pan on a really gentle heat, just a low simmer, for anything between 30 mins and 1 hour, until the flesh is tender when prodded with a fork.
Meanwhile, pour the beans onto a large serving dish and sprinkle with the sliced peppers and parsley leaves.
Once the octopus is ready, strain the fabulous hot juices over the bean salad. Taste and adjust with salt and lemon juice if required. You can refrigerate both the salad and octopus now, but be sure to eat it at room temperature.
Just before serving, use a barbecue to sear the octopus for a couple of seconds until it begins to char (a heated griddle pan will also do the job). Place on top of the salad with the lemon wedges and dig in.
ALTERNATIVE: This salad would work wonderfully well with squid or cuttlefish, which will take just seconds to cook from raw on the griddle or barbie. Sear the translucent tubes and tentacles until they turn opaque.
Image: John Holdship