Octopus, Beet and Citrus Salad

Octopus, Beet and Citrus Salad

1 - 2 1/2 -3 pound cooked octopus (directions below)

about three four beets, cooked in water until tender, then peeled and sliced about 1/8" thick (use the yellow or Chioggia variety, (not the dark red variety)

1 grapefruit, cut into sections (do this over a bowl and save the juice for the dressing)

1 orange, cut into sections (do this over a bowl and save the juice for the dressing)

salt, pepper

for decoration:

watercress leaves

chopped up pansies, or other edible flowers


1/2 cup olive oil

juice from the orange and grapefruit used in the salad

white wine or white balsamic vinegar, to taste (the amount will depend on how much juice your have from the orange and grapefruit, but I like a proportion of about 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar)

1 tsp. honey

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Mix everything in a jar and shake until everything is combined.

There are many ideas on how to cook octopus so that it's not tough - - from slow simmers in water, to putting a cork in the water to tenderize the octopus. Others say cooking it in water can "seize up" the octopus and toughen it. This method I outline uses no water, but rather lets the octopus cook in its own liquid. It works perfectly and produces a succulent octopus. Just don't buy baby octopus. They're too small and chewy and you won't get large enough pieces.

Start by gently heating about 1/4 cup olive oil in a large, lidded pot that can also go into the oven. (If you don't have one, cook the octopus in a lidded pot on the stove, then transfer to a glass or pyrex dish (covered) and place that in the oven. ) Place the whole octopus in the pot and cook at low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove from the stove and place in a preheated 300 degree oven for about an hour. Remove it from the oven and let it cool a bit. It will be very purple in color and will have shrunk significantly. Cut off the top of the head and the little pointy sharp beak and discard. Peel away the purple skin. Some of the suckers will peel off but many won't. You can leave them or not. I've served it both ways, but if it's a large octopus, the suckers are also large - and rubbery, so for this salad, I like to slice them off. Rinse under cool water and pat dry. Cut into bite-sized pieces on the diagonal.

Assemble the salad by slicing the beets in a pretty circular fashion on a platter, then layer the octopus and citrus pieces on top. Place a bunch of watercress in the center. Shake some salt and pepper all over the salad, then pour on the dressing. Decorate with minced edible flowers, like pansies.