Grilled Octopus Salad with Chickpeas, Wild Arugula and Preserved Lemon


I got a big craving for octopus after seeing the beautiful octopus salad We Are Never Full made recently, and after sampling some delicious versions at Pylos and Esca i couldn’t wait to get my tentacles on their hands. Yesterday, i found some nice small octopus at the fish market and we had that ‘instant connection’. I looked at her and she looked at me… time stood still.. we walked out together. The rest of the story is in the plate below. I won’t tell you how i tenderized my beloved octopus but We Are Never Full has some great tips here.

The octopus was boiled in a light court-bouillon, cooled, cut in chunks and grilled quickly on an improvised ‘grill’. It was a tender tentacle miracle…

For the salad i went for chickpeas, wild arugula, braised sweet pearl onions finished with a touch of agave syrup and roasted piquillo peppers with a few strips of preserved lemons, and a lemon vinaigrette to go with that. I had some parsley oil that needed loving too so i invited her to join the party and it provided a grassy bite that brought the whole thing together nicely. Do i really need to write a recipe? Can i.. just this one time?.. No?… Fine!!

  • Grilled Octopus Salad with Chickpeas, Wild Arugula and Preserved Lemon

    • (serves 2-4)
    • Court-bouillon:
    • 6 cups water
    • 2 cups white vinegar
    • 1 small onion, quartered
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 tbs black peppercorns
    • 1/2 lemon, cut up
    • 3 parsley stems
    • 2 tbs salt
    • Salad:
    • 1 small to medium-sized octopus, cooked in court-bouillon
    • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
    • 4 cups wild arugula, cleaned
    • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled
    • 1 tbs butter
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 1 tbs agave syrup
    • 1 piquillo pepper, roasted, peeled and sliced
    • 1/2 preserved lemon, skin only, sliced
    • 4 tablespoons parsley oil (blend 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup parsley leaves)
    • 1/2 cup lemon vinaigrette (1/2 clove garlic, salt, 2 tbs lemon juice, 6 tbs olive oil)
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Combine ingredients for court bouillon in a pot and bring to a boil. Add octopus, reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes (depends on size). Remove octopus, pat dry and let it cool. Toss in olive oil and lemon juice.

    Meanwhile, melt some butter in a small pan and add the pearl onions. Season with salt and pepper and sautee until they start to color. Add chicken stock and cover, cook until tender and liquid has evaporated. Remove cover and add the agave syrup and glaze the onions until golden brown. Set aside.

  • Place the chickpeas, arugula, piquillo peppers in a bowl and dress with the lemon vinaigrette. Arrange on a platter. Garnish with the sweet onions and drizzle some parsley oil. Grind some fresh black pepper over the salad.

    Okay.. this is not recommended at home unless your crazy, then your excused. Set your speed dial to 911 and grill the octopus chunks (preferably over charcoals, otherwise improvise). Don’t overdo-it or they will turn tough. Arrange the octopus chunks over the salad with thin slices of preserved lemon. Enjoy!

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  • Peter M

    Ahhh, memories of Pylos! You know I love octopus, especially grilled!

    Try braising it next time in it’s own liquid. You might find the court boullion to be unncessary.

  • Clumbsy Cookie

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr she says as she drinks a big glass of Portuguese wine…

  • Jeremy

    Love octopus, there was this Greek restaurant on 9th ave., it was the only decent dish they made. When I was in Istanbul, wow, talking about an octopus town!

  • Lazy baker

    Peter is right, try braising in red wine!

  • Parker

    This looks really pretty. I’ve never had octopus.

  • Colloquial Cook

    Yeah, why don’t you do it the GREEK way, man 😀

  • Junglefrog

    We Dutch people have a horrible habit of making even the best octopus taste horrible so I never ever eat octopus except when I am in Greece… But this recipe is very tempting so although I have never made any octopus myself… I might give it a try! (providing I can even find an octopus here, which is not very likely…:))

  • Stacey Snacks

    I can make this!
    I don’t have to just “cut up carrots”!
    But….no agave syrup, you fancy pants!

  • Big Boys Oven

    AWESOME, awesome lovely octopus turned into a bed of beautiful salad, just marvelous!

  • 5 Star Foodie

    Gorgeous! Love the idea of adding agave syrup and roasted piquillo peppers!

  • Giff

    love this, Zen!

  • we are never full

    you are such a badass! thanks for the shout-out. we feel honored! this looks excellend. esp. love the use of chickpeas.

  • chicopea

    goody. chickpeas for chicopea!

  • Tokyoastrogirl

    I just found your blog and wow……I mean, you’re the shit! Sorry to word it that way but you really are. The food…the photographs…and your sense of humor. I love it! And I LOVE grilled octopus….love it.

  • Manggy

    Oh, awesome. The only time I’ve eaten octopus was I think in Takoyaki… Yeah, not very elegant 😉 It also hurts that even in a coastal country like the Philippines, I’ve only seen octopus frozen AND it’s so expensive. I think you have to make a special order at the fish market for one. I’ll just have to make a special order at a certain chef’s place next time I go to New York, heh heh :)

  • Emily

    Is it just me, or are you cranking out extra delicious-sounding recipes lately? This looks spectacular. You’re a genius when it comes to playing around and combining flavors.

    Chickpeas are under-used. Don’t you think?

    Oh, and I’ve never had octopus.

  • TavoLini

    Wow–timing has got to be TRICKY when grilling octopus!!

    (I have to admit, it would have never occurred to me to try this!)

    Very cool, Chef :)

  • Elra

    I want to make this tonight, but that octopus scared me, it’s too big. I’ll substitute with the small one instead. Sounds so delicious, well actually I will know about it to night, kidding! Of course it will be delicious.

    p.s. I made your cheese souffle, it was so good (I added a tad of asiago in addition to gruyere and parmesan). Haven’t posted yet though, because I’ve already have my own souffle posted last week.

  • matt wright

    This looks absolutely fantastic! Talk about a great clean tasty salad.

  • Susan from Food Blogga

    Cooking octopus takes some serious skill, which you apparently have in abundance.

  • Heather

    I made a similar salad last year, but added chayote. Plus, I cheated and used tinned pulpo from Spain. 😛 Yours is much prettier, I must admit.

  • Elle

    Only you, Zen, could make an octopus look that gorgeous. Seriously.

  • pigpigscorner

    Such wonderful flavours. I wish I could get some octopus here too!

  • foodhuntress79

    Zen Chef, my Japanese zen-sei said that a good way to cut ‘tako’ (yup, octopus) is to make zigzags as you knife through the flesh to enable the flavors absorb better. Hmmm…you knew that already! Great salad you make! I like the blue flame of your stove- your pipes are so clean :)

  • adele

    Mmm. Looks lovely!

    On a completely unrelated note – because I know you’ve been one of her regular readers – do you know what’s happened to Ann of Redacted Recipes? I tried sending her an email a few months ago, but never received a response.

    I know she was having a rough time right around when her last few updates went up, so the months-long silence is a little unnerving. It’s fine if she’s no longer blogging, but it’s the uncertainty that worries me.

  • Manger La Ville

    Do you buy preserved lemon or make your own? If you buy it, any good recommendations? If you make it, any tips? I got to say I truly love your blog. I adore octopus salad. I had a great one in Brooklyn at Dumont. It was fantastic, but Otto was chewy and lack luster. I like how you made a court bouillon and then faux-grilled. Awesome flavors, nice and fresh!!!

  • dirtykitchensecrets

    another fantastic idea from the Zen man! Thank you :)

  • Cynthia

    I wish I lived near to you.

  • Cakebrain

    That octopus salad is reaching out its tentacles for me! aaaah! mmmmmm! You actually made octopus look tantalizingly yummy and sexy at the same time.

  • vincent


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  • dorie

    great, great looking salad. love the combination of preserved lemons, chickpeas and octopus. can’t wait to try it.

  • MrGnocchi

    Chef I am really glad to see that you highlighted ‘Esca’ in your post. The Version on the Octopus there with Frisee and White Beans is great ( I should know, I externed there)