Insalata di polpo

Fellow food blogger Frank Fariello is a retired lawyer with strong ties to his Italian heritage. He started his blog in 2009, to honor the cooking of his Italian grandmother. His blog is called Memorie di Angelina because it was at her house for “leisurely Sunday dinners” where his love of food and, eventually cooking, began.

What I love about his blog is that Frank is the Italian culinary police that I always kid about! No, he doesn’t chastise other cooks for any Italian culinary faux pas, but his recipes are traditional and authentic. Mostly he covers the cuisines of Rome and Naples, but also provides Angelina’s specialties, who was from Campania, Italy. Frank provides a history and provenance of every recipe.

From Frank: “Memorie di Angelina offers up something that many other blogs do not – a real focus on technique and the actual experience of cooking, presented in a way that strives to both educate and entertain. After reading one of my recipes, I want you to feel confident that you can make it, too.”

I was slightly skeptical of using pre-cooked octopus, but if The Man suggested it, I decided it was the way to go. I was able to find it easily on a website I’ve used before called Fulton Fish Market.

The octopus arrived frozen, and was quick and easy to thaw. Soon enough I was nibbling on it while making this salad.

Insalata di Polpo
Serves 4-6

1 kilo (2 lbs) octopus, pre-cooked or fresh

For the dressing:

150 ml (a bit over 1/2 cup) olive oil
The juice of a half or a whole lemon
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely minced
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper flakes

For the salad:

Potatoes, boiled in their skins, then peeled and cut into wedges
Celery, thinly sliced
Carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Capers, drained
Thai chile peppers, thinly sliced (my addition)

If using pre-cooked octopus, rinse and drain it well and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut the tentacles into cubes and head, if included, into strips. If using fresh octopus, boil it until tender, drain it and let it cool until just slightly warm beforehand.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together until well emulsified. Taste and adjust for acidity and seasoning.

Pour the dressing over the octopus and mix well, together with the salad ingredients. Let everything rest for a good 30 minutes or more.

Serve on a bed of arugula or tender lettuce leaves.

This salad was so good I couldn’t stop eating it! Great flavors and textures, and the octopus itself was wonderful.

Thank you, Frank, for introducing me to this fabulous salad!



By Published On: September 4th, 202333 Comments on Insalata di polpo

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Ron Jardot September 4, 2023 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    This looks just like the salad I had in Southern France when I was there! It’s what got me started trying octopus in restaurants! Just had a fabulous polpo appetizer at a restaurant in Key West! It had the best texture I’ve tasted so far! Restaurant was called Azur!

    • Chef Mimi September 4, 2023 at 4:59 PM - Reply

      People are really missing out who don’t try octopus and squid. Especially fire-grilled, they’re just so damn good. Looks like you had fun in Key West. Sad timing with the death of JB.

  2. David Scott Allen September 4, 2023 at 11:26 AM - Reply

    I love Frank and his site — so many incredible and truly simple recipes… and they all work beautifully! This is a very different version of the Insalata di Polpo I know, but there are so many variations around the coast of Italy. Definitely want to try this version with tomatoes!

    • Chef Mimi September 4, 2023 at 5:01 PM - Reply

      It was so good, but yes, there are many different variations. When we’re traveling near or on the coast anywhere in Europe I always order the seafood salad, and they’re all different, and all delicious!

  3. Fran@ G'day Souffle September 4, 2023 at 1:46 PM - Reply

    Some people are turned off by the thought of eating octopus, but I like it! One of my favorite dishes is the Spanish ‘Pulpo a la Gallega’ which is served with potatoes coated in olive oil and paprika. Your recipe is certainly very colorful, especially with the addition of cherry tomatoes and olives!

    • Chef Mimi September 4, 2023 at 5:02 PM - Reply

      I have yet to try that! Another one to add to the list! In Nice once I had fire-grilled octopus and squid, with French fries, and that was a top meal for me!

  4. carrietalkingmeals September 4, 2023 at 1:51 PM - Reply

    This salad looks so bright and colorful! I’ve had octopus grilled and that char gave it so much flavor. Does it have a lot of flavor on it’s own just boiled?

    • Chef Mimi September 4, 2023 at 5:03 PM - Reply

      It really doesn’t compare to grilled, but it’s still good. Supposed with this pre-cooked octopus you can grill it but I’m a bit wary of overcooking it. I should try it sometime.

  5. Charlie DeSando September 4, 2023 at 7:48 PM - Reply

    Sono un completo snob del cibo italiano. E lo ammetto liberamente. La tua insalata sembra fantastica, molto ben fatta.
    Which means – I’m a complete Italian food snob. And I freely admit it. Your salad looks great, very well done. And Frank is great.

    • Chef Mimi September 4, 2023 at 8:24 PM - Reply

      Frank is great!!!! And I’m a snob as well, French, but also 83% Sicilian!!!!

  6. Sherry Mackay September 4, 2023 at 8:33 PM - Reply

    I do love octopus, but I simply cannot bring myself to eat it anymore knowing that they are one of the smartest creatures on the planet! But this does look delicious Mimi!

  7. Tandy | Lavender and Lime September 4, 2023 at 10:52 PM - Reply

    I’ve never seen precooked octopus. It’s so easy to cook, which I do the Sicilian way, so I shall try this next time we get one.

  8. Ron September 5, 2023 at 3:23 AM - Reply

    Frank does do a great job passing on his knowledge of Italian cooking. I remember Frank’s post from a few years back as I’ve made his insalata di polpo dish more than once. But, octopus is way to hard to find and afford here, so I use jumbo shrimp.
    You’ve done an excellent job of honoring Franks recipe.

    • Chef Mimi September 5, 2023 at 8:43 AM - Reply

      The pre-cooked octopus was very good. It’s impossible for me to get a fresh octopus shipped to me, of course, but Stefan told me that frozen octopus is excellent, and some people freeze it anyway to improve the texture. So I’ll try that some time. I’d really like too cook octopus from a raw state once in my life!

  9. David @ Spiced September 6, 2023 at 6:33 AM - Reply

    I do love Frank’s website and his background of the various regions and recipes – I learn something every time I stop by! I remember when he posted this one, and now here it is again. I think the universe is sending me a signal…

    • Chef Mimi September 6, 2023 at 6:53 AM - Reply

      It must be! Yes, he’s got a great website.

  10. Chef Mimi September 6, 2023 at 6:53 AM - Reply

    There is a “textural” element to it, but it’s not rubbery, which is its reputation.

  11. Frank Fariello September 6, 2023 at 8:07 AM - Reply

    Thanks so much for the shout out, Mimi! And the kind words about the blog. You’ve really done this dish justice—it looks fabulous! –“The Man”

    • Chef Mimi September 7, 2023 at 7:37 AM - Reply

      Hahahahahahaha! Well thanks. It was wonderful.

  12. Healthy World Cuisine September 6, 2023 at 9:51 AM - Reply

    Simple Italian recipes are the best. I have not seen the precooked octopus before but now will keep our eyes open – makes this recipes super quick and easy to prepare.

    • Chef Mimi September 7, 2023 at 7:37 AM - Reply

      I was surprised to read about it. But hey, it’s cleaned and cooked. What’s not to love?!

  13. Debra September 6, 2023 at 6:30 PM - Reply

    Not that this comes as a surprise to me, but I’m just not a foodie. My husband and I have been binge watching Top Chef seasons and we finished one last night, both of us laughing that we are so fascinated with the chefs’ presentations, to the judges. Their talent displays beauty, artistry and creativity and most of the time although the judges enjoy the food with real enthusiasm, I can’t seem to imagine that I’d be tempted. It took me the longest time to be willing to try fried calamari! LOL! I’m not sure I could be persuaded to try this recipe you’re offering today, but I know enough to say that I’m the loser in that equation. I also “never say never,” :-)

    • Chef Mimi September 7, 2023 at 7:40 AM - Reply

      Well thank goodness this isn’t a competition!!! We can’t all be good at certain things, and I happen to be great at eating food! And there’s so much to try!!! It’s funny you like Top Chef. I like MasterChef Junior! It’s little kids who can barely see over the stove, but they’re hardly competitive and never mean. A very different and pleasant vibe than the shows with the adults.

  14. September 7, 2023 at 2:50 PM - Reply

    Oh my but it’s a visual thing as I just can’t get past those tentacles. I would have to eat around them… I just saw another recipe from one of my Italian cookbooks (Cucina di Amalfi) and they used baby octopus – ugh! The salad would be lovely for me anyways without those creatures of the deep sea :)

    • Chef Mimi September 7, 2023 at 3:47 PM - Reply

      Hahahaha! I understand!

  15. September 9, 2023 at 1:23 AM - Reply

    I do enjoy reading Frank’s stories and seeing his authentic recipes. Looks like you had fun making this one!

    • Chef Mimi September 9, 2023 at 9:54 AM - Reply

      Oh I did! I go through spurts ordering seafood, because I start craving it, and I don’t live on the coast. Then I eat it till I’m satisfied!!!

  16. Chef Mimi September 9, 2023 at 9:53 AM - Reply

    I understand! My girlfriend who’s the most adventurous won’t touch octopus or liver! I get it.

  17. Shannon September 10, 2023 at 4:45 PM - Reply

    This is one gorgeous salad Mimi! I love all the colors. And I love salads like this that incorporate potatoes, especially when there’s a delicious homemade dressing. Your addition of the Thai chili peppers is genius!

    • Chef Mimi September 10, 2023 at 5:48 PM - Reply

      Thanks so much Shannon! It was good to find you again. I don’t understand how bloggers disappear into the blogosphere!

  18. Raymund September 13, 2023 at 6:56 PM - Reply

    Who does not love Frank! Love his delicious recipes at the same time I admire him for honoring the rich culinary heritage of Italy. Amazing recipe!

    • Chef Mimi September 14, 2023 at 7:41 AM - Reply

      Well you summed him up perfectly!

  19. Chef Mimi September 15, 2023 at 7:50 AM - Reply

    Oh, octopus is good. I think it has a bad reputation of being rubbery, which is only from being overcooked. Otherwise it’s delicate and flavorful.

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