The perfect summer appetizer, this octopus salad is bursting with Mediterranean flavors. It's ready in about 15 minutes!
The cilantro, kalamata olives, olive oil, and lemon juice elevate this simple salad into a delicacy. And using fully cooked octopus means it's so easy to assemble.
I discovered my love of octopus in Argentina. When you think of Argentina in terms of food, you probably think about parrilla (grilled meat), empanadas, and alfajores. But while visiting there, we discovered that their seafood is absolutely amazing too.
While we very much enjoyed the meaty platters of parrilla we were served:
It was this octopus appetizer that we enjoyed at Agraz restaurant in Buenos Aires that we talk about to this day, ten years after our visit:
It was succulent, flavorful, and well-seasoned. The outside was charred while the inside was wonderfully moist and juicy. It was perfect, and that's how we found out that we love eating octopus.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this flavorful octopus salad. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Cooked octopus: I get it at wildforkfoods.com. They have packaged octopus tentacles that are perfect for this recipe.
Tomatoes: I use cherry tomatoes. If they're large, it's a good idea to cut them in half.
Olives: You can use any type of olives you like, but pitted kalamata olives are especially good in this salad.
Garlic: I use just one minced garlic clove. I do highly recommend using freshly minced garlic rather than jarred minced garlic.
Cilantro: In many of my recipes I tell you that it's OK to use parsley instead of cilantro. Here, I'm not so sure. The cilantro is such an integral part of the flavor combination.
To season: Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and dried oregano.
Lemon juice: You'll definitely want to use freshly squeezed lemon juice in the dressing.
Olive oil: Make sure to use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Making this octopus salad couldn't be any easier! The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the steps:
- Cut the octopus tentacles into bite-size pieces.
- Add the remaining ingredients
- Gently mix to combine.
- Serve immediately, or allow the salad to rest for 20 minutes, mix again, and serve!
Since this recipe relies on fully cooked octopus, it will only be as good as the octopus you purchase. Octopus is typically boiled until it's tender, then added to recipes as is or quickly grilled or sauteed. It can become tough and gummy when overcooked.
I find that the cooked octopus sold at wildforkfoods.com is excellent. Most pieces are nice and tender. Very few are gummy. It comes frozen, so make sure to fully defrost it before using it.
Frequently asked questions
Yes. You need to boil it until it's tender, and then you can either use it immediately as we do here, or quickly grill or saute it.
Whatever you do, remember that overcooked octopus becomes tough and gummy, so it's imperative not to overcook it.
Not really. Octopus is fattier and more tender. It's a little chewy, even when perfectly prepared. It has its own unique flavor that can't really be compared to other seafood, so you'll just have to taste it and see for yourself!
Yes, absolutely. Once boiled until tender, you can chill it and use it in a cold salad as we do here and as Japanese cooks do when they prepare tako - octopus sashimi.
Here are a few ideas for varying this recipe:
- Add ¼ cup of thinly sliced red onions
- Use red wine vinegar instead of lemon juice
- Add a tablespoon of capers
- Add a pinch of red pepper flakes
I typically serve this salad as an appetizer and when I do, it feeds three. If I serve it as a main course, I divide it into two portions and add thick, buttered slices of almond flour bread on the side.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 1-2 days. But if the octopus you've used has already spent some time in the fridge, take that into account.
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- 12 oz octopus tentacles fully cooked*
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes (3 oz; halved if large)
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olives (2 oz)
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed, from ½ large lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil extra-virgin
- Remove the octopus tentacles from the package and place them on paper towels to remove extra liquid.
- Cut the octopus into bite-size pieces. Place them in a glass or ceramic salad bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients.
- Gently toss to coat.
- Serve immediately, or - for the best results - cover and let the salad rest at room temperature for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- Mix again and serve.