The Whole World on Your Grill

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Summer Recipes
  Salad of Warm Grilled Octopus, Tomato, Sweet Onion, and Feta Cheese

The Chef
Michael Psilakis of Onera

Serves 6

Octopus salad
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 octopuses (about 2 pounds each); ask the fishmonger to clean and separate the octopus
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
1 large red vine-ripened tomato, cut into eighths 
1 large yellow vine-ripened tomato, cut into eighths
1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled Fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
14 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 small shallots, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 sprig of mint (plus additional mint for garnish)
2 tablespoons dry oregano (preferably from Greece)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup rice wine or other distilled white vinegar
2 fresh or marinated anchovy fillets (fresh strongly recommended)

Cooking Instructions
Octopus salad
Preheat the oven to 350. Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until light brown, taking care not to burn. Using tongs, carefully add the octopus and red-pepper flakes (make sure the octopus is dry or it will splatter in the oil), and sauté until the octopus turns a rich purple and begins to yield its water. Transfer to a baking pan, cover with aluminum foil, and cook in the oven until a fork can easily cut through the thickest part of a tentacle. Start checking after 15 minutes, and then every 10 minutes (it should take 25 to 35 minutes).

Remove the foil and let the octopus cool in its juices, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. (It can be stored for 3 to 4 days.)


Combine the ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse, scraping the sides often, until combined but still chunky (the garlic and shallots should be the size of tiny pebbles). The vinaigrette will taste better the second day and last for a week in the refrigerator.

Grilling and assembly

Toss the tomatoes and onions with 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Light or preheat the grill. When the coals are hot, grill the prepared octopus directly over the fire until nicely charred (but not burnt). Transfer to a board and cut into bite-size pieces. While it’s still hot, toss octopus with the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Place the vegetables on the grill and char until the tomatoes have slightly softened and the onions are translucent. Add the vegetables and feta to the octopus vinaigrette and toss together. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the mint leaves.

Best With
Fava Purée with Grilled Baguette

Photograph by Mitchell Steinberg