In my culture, octopus is considered heaven sent because of its nutrition and value. Just like squid, it is something that we relish. We bake it, we broil it, and we even make it as salad. Yet, in our family, the favorite was stewed octopus that we served over steamed white rice. But you can also pair it with pasta or couscous, or quinoa.
In the old days octopus could only be found in Latino, Greek, Asian or Portuguese neighborhoods. Today it’s readily available in most markets, fresh or frozen, and already cleaned. If fresh, the skin should be firm and elastic to the touch, and it should be purplish pink. If the color is brownish or brownish purple, skip it.
Octopus is cleaned just like squid in that the head cavity is flushed out. Before cooking, octopus should be rinsed in water and drained thoroughly. The mouth, a hard piece underneath the body and that looks like an eye, should be cut off and discarded. Now you’re set to go.
2½ to 3 pound baby octopus
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano leaves or ½ teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh chopped basil or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Place octopus in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven and cover with water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. At this point the octopus should be pink and slightly tender. Remove octopus from kettle, drain and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a deep skillet. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic. Sauté over moderate for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes more.
- Add octopus meat. Cover skillet and simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.
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