Grilled octopus with fennel, chickpea purée and wild seaweed dressing

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 people

  • 300 gm baby octopus (about 4), cleaned
  • 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, bruised
  • 1 lemon, finely grated rind and juice only
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
  • 200 gm dried chickpeas, soaked in plenty of cold water overnight, drained
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 large fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
  •  
  • Wild seaweed dressing
  • 10 large English spinach leaves, blanched and squeezed dry
  • 3 anchovy fillets, minced
  • ¼ lemon, finely grated rind only
  • 200 gm laverbread (see note)
01   For wild seaweed dressing, pound spinach in a mortar and pestle to a fine paste (8-10 minutes), add anchovy and lemon rind and pound to combine. Transfer to a bowl, add laverbread and mix well to combine.
02   Combine octopus, 30ml oil, garlic, lemon rind and oregano in a non-reactive bowl, cover and set aside at room temperature.
03   Combine stock, chickpeas, onion and rosemary in a saucepan, bring to the boil and cook over medium-high heat until chickpeas are tender (25-30 minutes). Drain and reserve 350ml liquid (discard rosemary). Heat remaining oil in a frying pan, add chickpea mixture and cumin and sauté to infuse flavours (5 minutes). Transfer to a food processor and process, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to form a smooth paste. Season to taste.
04   Transfer octopus mixture to a saucepan and cook over very low heat until tender and gelatinous (20-25 minutes). Season to taste.
05   Combine fennel, lemon juice and parsley, season to taste and toss to combine.
06   Smear seaweed dressing over plates, divide chickpea purée among them, top with octopus and fennel salad. Serve with braised artichokes with asparagus and pecorino, prosciutto and crusty bread.
Note Laverbread is cooked, chopped laver (seaweed). Available from Simon Johnson.
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