Naxos is well known for its incredible culinary heritage and its reputation rests largely on the amazing produce of the island. This super easy to make meze, which hails from Naxos, can be easily recreated outside of the island, with produce from your local farmers market.
We enjoyed this meze in Naxos recently (you can read more in my guide to Naxos). The recipe comes from a small fisherman's taverna, which sits right on the main ferry port. It was the perfect start to a leisurely evening meal, accompanied by a very chilled ouzo, set against the spectacular backdrop of the sun setting over Naxos' famous Porta. This was one of those holiday dishes that was really going to stay in my memory and I just had to ask for the recipe. I could have seen myself back in Sydney regretting a missed opportunity if I had not asked. Luckily the taverna cook was more than happy to oblige and the recipe was shared, along with the secret tip to use plenty of fresh herbs - a common theme in much Greek cooking!
Naxiot octopus & vegetable toursi (χταπόδι τουρσί)
1 medium octopus
1 medium carrot
1 large celery stick
1 red pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup Greek olive oil
3/4 cup of Greek wine vinegar
1 tbs. fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. Greek bukovo chilli flakes
1 – 2 sterilized jars
To serve: lemon wedges and flat-leaf parsley
To clean the octopus, pull off the tentacles and remove the intestines and ink sac. Cut out the eyes and beak. Remove the skin and rinse well.
Place the body and tentacles of the octopus in a large saucepan without any liquid. Cover and simmer the octopus in its own juices over low heat until it turns deep pink and is tender (about 45–60 minutes). Drain the octopus. When cool enough to handle, cut the head and tentacles into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl.
Slice the vegetables very finely using a mandolin. Blanch in lightly salted boiling water for 5 minutes and set aside.
Add the Greek wine vinegar into a small separate pot and add bring to the boil over medium heat. Turn the heat off, add the garlic, herbs, chili and olive oil and stir well to combine.
Place pieces of octopus and vegetables in the jars and then pour the dressing into the jars (ensure the octopus is covered). Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 12 hours before using. Stir occasionally. Store in your fridge for up to 1 month.
To serve, lift the octopus and vegetables out of the marinade, pile into a dish and garnish with lemon wedges and plenty of finely chopped parsley (I like to stir this through before serving). Don't worry if the marinade seems a little thick after it has been in the fridge. It will become more liquid when the oil returns to room temperature.