Learn how to make a delicious Sicilian octopus salad like a true chef living in Sicily. Explore the rich smoky flavours of the tender octopus straight off the grill with traditional Sicilian flavours. With a combination of blue prawns, potatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, lemon, oil and Mediterranean herbs, you are in for a memorable salad. It is light, includes a range of flavours and every single bite is perfectly balanced. As always, this octopus salad is best enjoyed with fresh produce. So, you’ll need to source the ingredients at your local fish market for the best results. Once you have the octopus salad ready, you’ll feel like you are on vacation! This pairs well with a glass of dry rose wine or a more full-bodied dry white wine!
During the Easter holidays, my son and I were fortunate to visit Sicily for the first time. What a lovely experience it was! Not only did the village, Cefalu, we stayed in ooze of charm, but we also had stunning views of the brilliant blue sea and enjoyed the lovely weather.
Of course, when it came to food we were not disappointed and it’s a good thing that we packed in our fat pants to accommodate our expanding waistlines on this week long trip.
However, the absolute highlight for me was doing a photo shoot with chef Mario Traina close to Catania. It was a long drive but it was so worth it. Once there, I was welcomed with open arms not only by him but also his students and colleagues, which made the photo shoot so much easier and fun – a big contrast to usually working alone.
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At the end of the long day we managed to produce eight recipes, which I can’t wait to share with you. The first being this grilled octopus salad, which is Mario’s unique creation. His name for this dish is actually Sea Shore Salad Looking At Etna. As you can probably deduce chef Mario has taken the absolute best local ingredients he could find and let their natural strengths shine through to make this delectable salad.
Never in my life have I tasted prawns as sweet. What’s more, they were so fresh that you could eat them raw and I sure did. While globe artichokes arrive in a sorry state at UK supermarkets, the Sicilian ones were in beautiful shape. For the first time in my life I tasted a citron, which is a large lemon with plenty of pith that tastes surprisingly good.
Never have I had a barbecue on the beach. As you can see, I’ve lost many virginities on that day, which made the whole experience so special and memorable. Mario Traina’s passion is palpable and infectious and he’s a tome of knowledge when it comes to food.
I hope you try this recipe at home. It might look tricky but the biggest secret is finding quality ingredients and letting them do the work for you. Stay tuned for more recipes!
Octopus is a rather unusual ingredient when you live on British soil and it’s rarely seen on restaurant menus. However, as this octopus salad is a Sicilian recipe, cooking with fresh octopus is a must! So, my next question is – when was the last time you’ve eaten or even cooked with octopus? Most people fear cooking with this delicate ingredient, as it can sometimes be quite the challenge in terms of trying to cook the octopus to perfection. There is a very fine line between cooking the octopus too little and overcooking the octopus until it becomes like eating rubber. The perfect result we all want is that delicious tender octopus that falls apart in your mouth.
The trick to getting the octopus right is to follow these few steps. Before you place the thawed octopus into the boiling pot of salted water, you need to apply a one minute massage along the tentacles. Massaging it will make the meat more tender.
Once you have the octopus ready, make sure that your pot of water is at boiling temperature. For more flavour, you can scent the water with lemon, garlic and bay leaves when cooking the octopus. Next, take the octopus by its head and submerge the tentacles four to fives times, before you submerge the whole octopus. Turn the octopus from time to time, because if its head is floating, chances are that it won’t cook properly.
You’ll know when the octopus is ready if you can easily separate the tentacles from the body. That means that the octopus is tender! Drain the octopus and let it cool down. Next, you can give it a char on the grill.
The main thing to remember with the prawns is to purchase the type that still have their eggs. These eggs are commonly orange, but can also be blue when cooking with blue prawns. The eggs are found in the legs of the shrimps. The shrimps store the eggs there until they mature and hatch. Eating these small orange eggs is considered as a true delicacy in some cultures!
For this octopus salad, you’ll need to shell the prawns but preserve the eggs in a separate container. You’ll combine them into the octopus salad later, so set them aside for a while.
Prepare your charcoal barbecue and while waiting you can slice the citron in little cubes. Prepare your artichokes and potatoes. Once your barbecue is ready, place the whole potatoes inside hot charcoals for 30 minutes. Give them a nice char, this will caramelise the potatoes. While the potatoes are cooking, season the artichokes with olive oil and salt and cook over the charcoals with sliced orange. The sliced oranges will lend a nice acidity and zestiness to the octopus salad.
Now, this step completely optional, but I highly recommend finishing off the octopus on the barbecue to give it a smoky flavour. The exterior of the octopus will have a wonderful char, while the center will be tender. It will certainly add complexity and depth of flavour to the octopus salad.
octopus salad recipe
When the potatoes are cooked and cooled down, scoop the flesh out. Next, cut the octopus into bite-sized pieces. I recommend cutting the octopus into one to two inch pieces, just enough for a bite! Have the rest of the ingredients ready at hand, because the next step is the assembling of ingredients!
seasoning and toppings
Assemble everything together and season with olive oil and salt flakes. I also like to sprinkle a bit of lemon or lime juice for extra acidity. Don’t forget to add some lovely fresh Mediterranean herbs. I encourage you to try parsley, because it works really well with octopus. You can also opt for fresh watercress for extra bitterness.
With respect to the salad, you can normal salad or escarole for extra flavour. Otherwise, you can read all about different kinds of green leaves that can be used as escarole substitutes. The choice of greens and herbs is entirely yours!
If you feel like you’ve got more than enough octopus, don’t toss it away! You can easily reuse it in another seafood salad or you can place the grilled octopus on a base of vegetable noodles like these. Otherwise, if you feel like pairing the octopus with something sweeter, then I recommend pairing it with this Italian fig salad with Parma ham and blue cheese. If you are after something more filling but still healthy and light, this vegan cauliflower mash is perfect! The creaminess of the cauliflower makes the mash the best side dish to an octopus straight off the grill.
The most common variation is a Greek version of the octopus salad. Simply toss the grilled octopus into a traditional Greek salad recipe, and you’ll have a lovely Greek octopus salad.
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Grilled Octopus Salad
Explore the flavours of a tender octopus salad with Sicilian flavours. You'll need blue prawns, potatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, orange, oil and herbs.
- 450g (1lb) Octopus
- 120g (4oz) prawns with their eggs
- 1 medium citron, washed
- 2 medium potatoes
- 60g (2oz) olives, pitted and halved
- 2 medium globe artichokes, peeled and halved
- 15g (1 tbsp) capers, soaked in water
- 30ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt flakes
- Wash the octopus. Place in a pot of salted and scented boiling water and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Shell the prawns but preserve the eggs in a separate container.
- Slice the citron in little cubes.
- Prepare a charcoal barbecue.
- Place the whole potatoes inside hot charcoals for 30 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, season the artichokes with olive oil and salt and cook over charcoals with sliced orange.
- [Optional] Finish of the octopus on the barbecue to give it a smoky flavour.
- When the potatoes are cooked and cooled down, scoop the pulp out. Cut the octopus into bite-sized pieces.
- Assemble everything together and season with olive oil and salt flakes. Drizzle the blue prawn eggs on top and fresh herbs such as parsley.
- You can scent the water with lemon, garlic and bay leaves when cooking the octopus.
- In this recipe the prawns were so ridiculously fresh that they were eaten raw. If you can't get hold of super fresh prawns, grill them on the barbecue along with the octopus and serve them cooked.
Courses Main Course
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 12.7 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Sodium 456 mg
Total Carbohydrates 32 g
Dietary Fiber 7.6 g
Sugars 1.9 g
Protein 26.3 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.