Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grilled Baby Octopus with Butter Bean Salad

A good friend and foody came over for dinner Friday night and was so kind to bring me a new cookbook - Italian Grill by Mario Batali.

I spent my Saturday morning reading the book, marking various recipes to try. Saturday was a gorgeous summer day so I selected the Grilled Baby Octopus Salad as my 1st recipe from the new book to make. What a great choice! It was super easy to make, so simple and so tasty.

I made a few modifications to the recipe. I couldn't find gigante beans so I used butter beans. Scott and I are both not fans of thyme so we substituted rosemary in the bean salad. The recipe calls for a vinaigrette of olives, orange zest and other ingredients. I didn't care for the vinaigrette and was VERY happy that I tasted BEFORE I drizzled over the platter. In place I simply drizzled the platter with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

We had plenty left over. I chopped up the octopus and it made a wonderful side dish to bring to a barbecue on Sunday.

Adapted from Italian Grill by Mario Batali.
If you can't find baby octopus, you can use a full-sized octopus. Just simmer it in salted water about an hour, or until tender, and then cut up the tentacles before grilling.

For the bean salad:
2 (14-ounce) cans gigante beans or butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 garlic cloves, thinly sliced - originally called for 3 cloves raw - I cut to 1 clove and would recommend sauteing or roasting to lighten flavor
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or thyme
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the octopus:
2 pounds baby octopus
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small bunch chives, cut into 1-inch lengths

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

Make the bean salad: Roast or saute garlic in oil. Combine the beans, garlic, scallions, rosemary, and olive oil in a medium bowl, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside. (The beans can be prepared a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before serving.)

Grill the octopus: Toss the octopus with enough olive oil to coat lightly, and season well with salt and pepper. Arrange the octopi on the hottest part of the grill, leaving at least 1 inch between them, and grill, turning once, until crispy, about 4 minutes per side. [Only 1-2 minutes if you're using adult octopus that you've already simmered.]

Mound the bean salad on a large platter. Arrange the octopus over and around the beans. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle with chives.


Vinaigrette option if you choose:
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup pitted Gaeta olives
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
grated zest of 2 oranges
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Make the vinaigrette: Combine the shallots, olives, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and orange zest in a medium bowl and and mix well. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.

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