I finally figured out how to transform the rubbery “look” of octopus into a tender delicacy. Here it is:
Prep time: 10 minutes (pesto) and 45 minutes (for boiling octopus)
Serves: 4 (as an appetizer)
First, make the Red Bell Pepper Pesto-
Ingredients for Red Bell Pepper Pesto:
2 red bell peppers
2 garlic cloves, hearts removed
3/4 cup raw, slivered almonds
3 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/3 cup cold water
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1. Lay the bell peppers and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Transfer the baking sheet to an oven rack positioned 6 inches away from oven top broiler element.
3. Broil the peppers and garlic until charred – about 7 minutes; turn them over and grill the other side.
4. When peppers and garlic are charred, transfer them to a cold plate; set aside to cool.
5. When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them and discard skins. Remove and discard stems and seeds.
6. Transfer peppers and remaining ingredients to a food processor; process until a paste (pesto) forms.
7. Using a spoon, taste the pesto. If it is too thin, cover the food processor and add 2 more tablespoons olive oil in a thin stream. Taste again and, if needed, adjust salt & pepper levels.
8. Transfer the pesto to a glass or porcelain jar, cover and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, prepare the octopus:
Ingredients for the Octopus:
1 whole octopus (fresh or frozen and thawed)
2 tablespoons olive oil, to oil baking sheet
Mint leaf sprigs, as garnish
1. In a 6-quart saucepot, bring water to a boil.
3. After 45 minutes, prepare a large bowl of cold water with ice cubes.
7. Cut off the head and discard it.
8. Cut all the tentacles in a vertical manner (do not discard any flesh) and place them on an oiled baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
10. Brush the octopus tentacles with olive oil; sprinkle them with salt and ground black pepper.
11. Place the baking sheet with octopus on an oven rack positioned 6 inches below top broiler element.
12. Broil/grill the octopus for 12 to 15 minutes.
13. After 12 to 15 minutes, transfer the octopus to a plate & garnish with mint leaves.
14. Serve immediately with Red Bell Pepper Pesto.