Sunday, 22 March 2009

Marinella's octopus salad

Marinella lives in Sardinia. She comes to Corzano e Paterno every spring to help with the holiday cottages on the farm and your stay is not complete without her octopus salad.

An octopus is a terrifying thing to behold in the raw flesh.

If your octopus is fresh it should be frozen first to tenderise the meat. Put it in the freezer the day before, then leave it in the fridge overnight to thaw. Some fishmongers sell frozen or thawed octopus which is cheaper and a little less work.

The recipe below will serve four as a main course with crusty bread to soak up the juices, or up to eight as a starter.

1kg octopus, frozen then thawed
plenty of salt
a fat clove of garlic, crushed
a handful of parlsey leaves, roughly chopped
juice of half a lemon
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
75g pitted black olives
3-4 tender stalks of celery, depending on their size
4 medium tomatoes
salt and papper

Fill a large pan with water and bring it to the boil. Salt it heavily so it tastes like seawater, then add the octopus, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove the octopus and allow it to cool enough to handle. Cut the whole thing into large chunks the size of a good mouthful. You can use every part except the tough beak. Dress the octupus while it's still warm with the garlic, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil. Leave aside to marinate.

While the octopus cools, put the black olives into a new bowl. Cut the celery into pieces roughly the same size as the olives. Slice the tomatoes in half, use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds, then chop them into pieces a similar size to the celery. Add everything to the bowl with olives and toss together with salt and pepper.

When the octopus is cool add the vegetables, not before as they will cook and become mushy. Mix everything together one last time and you're done.

The Corzano e Paterno villas are available all summer long, if you're interested take a look at www.corzanoepaterno.it.

While you're here you can visit the dairy, eat unimaginable amounts of the cheese they produce and taste their delicious wine. If you mention my name when booking I might get brownie points (hmmm... and maybe some cheese?) from the Gelpke family.

Our favourite picture of the trip is of Rupert, who was very fond of the octopus.

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