Octopus with Chickpea Salad

Chef  Michael Psilakis  makes Greek food made simple for us us to understand.
Octopus is perhaps one of the most recognized of Greek dishes, but many people are afraid of it because they think it’s difficult to cook. The technique in this recipe solves that problem- it comes out beautifully tender. Once you have this technique down, you can add diced octopus to a cold seafood salad, or a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce, or risotto.

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1 (4-6 pound) octopus, cleaned, whole legs only
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Blended oil (50 percent canola, 50 percent extra-virgin olive) as needed
6 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 fresh bay leaves or 4 dried leaves
¼ teaspoon red chile flakes
1 ¾ cups Chickpea Confit (recipe follows)
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
½ small red onion, roughly chopped
8 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
10 large, plump sun-dried tomatoes cut into strips
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Ladolemono (recipe follows)
Small handful torn fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, and/or parsley


Sear the legs in batches of two, to avoid overcrowding the pan. Season the legs liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Place a large skillet over the highest heat and let it get smoking hot. Film the pan with a little blended oil and add two of the legs, tentacle side down. Sear, turning, to a reddish brown, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a Dutch oven or roasting pan and sear the remaining legs, returning the pan to super hot each time.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and chile flakes and cover with the lid or aluminum foil. Braise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on the size of the octopus, until fork-tender.( Do this the night before if you like)
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill, or ridged cast-iron grill pan, until hot. In a large boil, combine the Chickpea Confit, black-eyed peas, red onion, scallions, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and dill. Season with kosher salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon and olive oil. Toss the salad mixture thoroughly and transfer to a large platter.
Grill or pan-grill the octopus legs briefly to char and warm. Transfer legs onto the salad. Drizzle the legs generously Ladolemono scatter with fresh herbs.

For the ladolemono

In a bowl, combine the 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp mustard, o1 tbspregano, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and a generous grinding of pepper. Whisk to blend the mixture completely and, whisking all the time, drizzle ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil. This sauce will separate, whisk or shake in a jar before using.

Chickpea Confit

Makes about 3 Cups

Cloves from 1 head of garlic, separated and peeled
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (such as Goya) well rinsed and well drained
Kosher salt and whole black peppercorns
Blended oil (50 percent canola and 50 percent extra-virgin olive oil)

In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, combine the garlic, cumin, mustard seeds, and chickpeas. Season liberally with kosher salt and pepper, and barely cover with blended oil. Cover the pot and cook at 325°F until aromatic but not browned, about 45 minutes.
When the mixture is cool, transfer it, with all the oil, to a sterilized glass container and use as you like. If the chickpeas are covered with oil, the confit could last up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. 


You can save the oil from the chickpeas for another use, for example, in a cumin vinaigrette for sautéing.