The arrival of spring always signals the start of salad days in our home. The days are longer, the weather is pleasantly warm and you can smell jasmine in the air. Apart from salad, the other great delight that I associate with spring is our cephalopod friend, the octopus. In Greece, octopus is a traditional fasting food, popular during lent, which falls during the springtime. Anecdotally, I have often been told that in Greece, the best season for the tastiest octopus is also the spring time. Whether there is a best season for octopus, I remain unsure. However, here in Australia, whatever the season octopus is consider a resilient and sustainable seafood option - just one more reason to make this satisfying salad.
Inspiration to make this salad struck me recently on a trip to Tasmania. In between commitments, the a small old fashioned neighbourhood grocer caught my eye with a chalk board promising 'locally grown new season potatoes' amongst a range of other Tassie treats. I quickly grabbed half a kilo and popped them in my carryon suitcase. On return to Sydney, I then spent a good part of Saturday hunting down the freshest octopus I could find. The real crowning glory of this salad however is the beautiful, green peppery Karabool Olive Oil from Mudgee, which Mr K recently received as a gift. It is really quite exceptionally and if you have the opportunity to purchase some, I could not recommend it more highly.
Octopus & potato salad (Σαλάτα με πατάτα και χταπόδι)
1 kilo of octopus, cleaned
1/2 bunch of chopped fresh parsley
1/4 bunch of chopped fresh dill
20 small baby potatoes
3 green shallots, chopped
3 red radishes, finely sliced
1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1/4 roasted pepita seeds
For the vinaigrette
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons of Greek wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Greek dried rigani
1 teaspoon of roasted fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of smoked bukovo chilli flakes
Wash the potatoes and boil in salted water for 30 minutes or until tender. The strain, let cool and the slice in half.
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.
Put the potatoes in a bowl and add the sliced octopus. Add the rest of the ingredients and pour the vinaigrette sauce.