Herby Octopus Salad with Blueberries

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You’ve all put up with me lamenting about the fact that, living in the middle of the United States, with no nearby coastline, I can’t buy fresh seafood. And it’s pretty much my favorite thing to eat, well over beef and chicken.

I make up for it when on vacation, especially when it comes to squid and octopus. I eat them until tentacles are practically coming out my ears.

Besides being delicious, they’re fascinating creatures.

Instead of whining, I decided it was time to just order some frozen baby octopus. I actually see it frozen occasionally in recipes, so I’m not the only person who can’t always buy it fresh, or wants it out of season.

The company I ordered from is La Tienda, a Spanish website that I’ve used for years. Just about any Spanish product you desire, they sell.

It was a fluke that I found frozen octopus; I didn’t expect La Tienda to have it. I also bought some frozen cuttlefish at the same time – something I’d never tried before – at least not knowingly.

When I received the pound of baby octopus, there were only two, so about 8 ounces each, shown above. I expected baby octopuses to look like ones I’ve had on salads or seen at markets.

But it gave me the opportunity to learn how to break down an octopus. It’s a very straight-forward procedure, and takes minutes.

Herby Octopus Salad with Blueberries
Cause it’s still summer here….

1 pound frozen baby octopus, thawed
Olive oil
Greens of choice
Chopped basil, parsley, and cilantro, about 1/2 cup total
Fresh blueberries, about 1/2 cup
Lemon juice (I used 1 lemon for 1 pound of octopus)
Olive juice, to taste
Salt
Aleppo pepper, optional

Rinse the octopus well and lay on a cutting board. Admire it, because it’s a beautiful sea creature!

Slice just below the eyes, and just above the eyes and discard this middle piece.


Then get rid of the beak in the middle of the tentacles.


Turn the head, or hood, inside out. Pull out everything from inside, and discard.

Turn the hood back to outside-in. There is a thin skin covering the hood that can be removed by pulling firmly.

Cut the tentacles off at the very top.

Trim the base of the hood, then slice the remaining hood into 1/4″ thick slices.

With the remaining center “upper thighs”, if you will, cut them each into 8 pie pieces.

From the left, the legs, the hood, and the upper thighs.

The below photo shows the legs at the top, the hood rings in the middle, and the thighs at the bottom.

Rinse the octopus parts, if necessary, then dry them well.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Over high heat and with your vent on, and perhaps a few open doors and windows, sear some of the octopus, without crowding it in the skillet, until browned. I cooked the legs, rings, and thighs separately, just because of the various thicknesses.

Remove to a plate and continue in batches; set aside.

Meanwhile, place the greens on a platter or plate.


In a small bowl, toss together the herbs and top the salad with the herbs.


Add the octopus parts, still warm, and the blueberries to the salad.


Drizzle on some fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle on a little salt.

If desired, add some Aleppo pepper for some zing!

And that’s it! The octopus was superb. All it takes is a little searing.

A simple combination of lemon juice and olive was wonderful. And the blueberries added fruitiness. The salad would also be good with warmed lentils.

I was very happy about the quality of the frozen octopus. It wasn’t old or water-logged.

At least I know now that I don’t need to turn up my nose at frozen octopus in the future. I will indeed be ordering it again.

I just have to find someone else to share it with…

And anyone who assumes that octopus is tough and rubbery, hasn’t tried it. (husband)

Summer Berry Pie

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There is an obvious lack of desserts on my blog. For one reason, I prefer savory over sweet any time, any day. But the other reason is that if I do make dessert, I’ll eat it. I mean, I’ll finish it.

When I made the mille crêpe cake for my birthday a while back, my husband and I both had a piece, and then I asked him if he’d want more. He shook his head no. He can get a little carried away as well, like when you get a hankering for that dessert that you know is in the fridge, and it’s 9 o’clock at night.

So into the garbage went that beautiful cake. I know, a waste, but I don’t really know anyone who wants to eat desserts either.

Recently I saw a Strawberry Slab Pie online. It was probably on Pinterest, and when I clicked on the pretty photo it went to the Country Living website.

It’s a strawberry pie baked in a jelly-roll pan and decorated with flowers. A fruit dessert is typically healthier than, say, a chocolate cheesecake to have sitting in the refrigerator taunting me at night. But what intrigued me about this pie is what the pie-maker did with the flower cut-outs of crust.

As with my mille crepe cake, this would be another baking/pastry challenge for me, because I’ve never done much more with pie crust dough than lattice.

First I had to locate some flower cookie cutters, which I found on Sur La Table.

What I also like about this pie is that the filling is basically all berries, plus a little sugar and cornstarch. None of that goopy pie-filling-like stuff.

Here’s the recipe:

Summer Berry Pie

Pie Crust, 2 or 3 recipes

All-purpose flour, for work surface
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled, sliced
1 pound whole blueberries
1 large egg white

To make the pie, preheat oven to 425°F with the rack in lowest position. On a lightly floured surface, roll 2 recipes of dough. Transfer to a pan and trim. Crimp and chill.

I obviously used a shallow, large, round terracotta pan to make this pie instead of a jelly-roll pan.

Roll remaining dough to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough with assorted flower-shaped cutters. Transfer flowers to prepared baking sheet, and chill.

Stir together sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Add strawberries and blueberries and toss gently to combine.

Transfer to bottom crust, packing tightly into pan.

Whisk together egg white and 2 teaspoons water in a bowl. Brush dough flowers with egg wash. Arrange dough flowers, slightly overlapping, on top of berries. Brush edges of dough with egg wash.

Freeze 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes. I had to adjust the temperature after 30 minutes; my crust browned too much. If this happens, place a piece of foil over the top of the pie and continue baking at 400 degrees.

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool until set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I served the pie with whipped cream.

I baked some pie-crust cookies separately, and stuck one in the whipped cream for decoration. I’m obviously not a stylist. So I ate it instead.


So, although a bit challenging but not stressful, I will leave the fancy pie-crust makers to their fancy pie crusts. The good thing is that the pie itself was very good.

I love that it’s just about crust and berries.

Check out this pie from Williams-Sonoma.