Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Grilled Octopus over Grilled Vegetables

One of my favorite Italian restaurant here in Los Angeles is the Hostaria del Piccolo in Santa Monica. My family and I often go there for dinner on Sundays. I love all their dishes!
In addition to the exceptional food and amazing atmosphere, I certainly appreciate the large screen televisions frequently showing cartoons. Great for my kids! Especially because in my house there is a no-tv-during-dinner rule. So, this is one of the few places where my husband and I can actually enjoy a nice conversation, while savoring a delicious meal.
One of my favorite appetizer at this restaurant is "grilled octopus over roasted seasonal vegetables". Buonissimo!
This morning I was thinking about this dish when I went to the fish market and bought octopus. I had never cooked octopus before, but ate it many times. Growing up my mother made it regularly in a salad with potatoes. Really good! And now that I have bought it once, I will definitely try to cook it that way too.
Today I researched several recipes to find out the best way to replicate my favorite appetizer from the Hostaria. I learned that to grill an octopus, I need to boil it first. Baby octopus should be boiled for about 15 minutes. Larger octopus need about 20 minutes for every pound of weight to be fully cooked. When the salted water boils, don't just drop the octopus inside, but gently dip it in and out a few times! Let it feel the water first :) I know, it sounds funny! I'm not sure what the reason is, but when I tried it, the tentacles curled up nicely. After boiling the octopus, to make it more tender,  I need to let it cool down in the same water I cooked it in. Also note, contrarily to many other seafood, it's better to buy frozen (or previously frozen) octopus because the freezing process makes the flesh less fibrous and more tender. If you buy fresh octopus you would need to tenderize it by beating it with a meat tenderizer ... hmm, the whole octopus already looks a bit scary, I can't imagine pounding it. So, I'm lucky that the market only had frozen octopus.
The last step is to marinate the octopus and then grill it, which won't take very long. Not too hard!
Check out what I did:

Ingredients, serving 4 people:
  • 2 octopuses (or octopi?!) about 1 1/2 lb each, cleaned - yes! At the fish market I made sure that no cleaning was involved :)
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tablespoon of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 3 zucchini
  • salt and pepper
Preparation time: About 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Step 1: Cook the whole octopus in salted boiling water for about 30 minutes. Adjust the time based on the size.

Step 2: While the octopus boils, cut the eggplants and zucchinis in long slices, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Season with olive oil and salt, and grill in a grilling pan. It smells delicious over here :)

Step 3: Cut the grilled vegetables in smaller pieces, place them in an oven pan with a few slices of garlic and a bit of olive oil. Keep warm in oven.

Step 4: At the end of the 30 minutes, remove the pot with the octopus from the heat and let it cool off in the same water. Drain and cut  in big pieces.

Step 5: In a large bowl marinate the pieces with olive oil, sliced garlic and parsley. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, or more if you are still working on grilling the vegetables.
Step 6: Heat a grilling pan over medium heat. Cook each side of the octopus for about 5 minutes, brushing with the oil from the bowl.

Step 7: Garnish with parsley and serve immediately over the grilled vegetables.

Great first attempt! I will surely prepare this dish again. Healthy and delicious!

If you end up going to the Hostaria, try their pizza with porchetta. Amazing! They make their own porchetta. I should do some research and try to prepare that too.

Buon Appetito!


  1. Manuela, I am from Milan. If you like cooking whatch alice . One of the things that you for the boiling part is cook the octopus is a pan with a tomato (quartered) asparagus and some vegetable broth for the 30 minutes instead of just water. The asparagus can be grilled afterwards. The broth with the tomatoes can be shake(frullato) and then let it sit in a saucepan with some oil and let it simmer and concentrate. Use this for the garnish the grilled octopus. Of course the octopus after the 30min should be grilled.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion and I will check out your link!! Sicuramente provero' a prepararlo come hai detto tu. Con asparagi grigliati... bellissima idea. Grazie :)

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  3. Such a good recipe! I usually cook octopus Galician style, but will definitely give this a try.