appetizer, Brunch, Recipes, Salad, Seafood

Warm Octopus, Beans and Fennel Salad


Octopus has a unique texture, much “meatier” than that of its’ relative the squid. It requires a longer blanching and cooking time, which is why I don’t often use it.
However, as I’ve read somewhere that when it is blanched, cut into smaller pieces, frozen and thawed, it requires much shorter cooking time – I’ve decided to give this option a try.
My first experience proved that claim to be wrong, as, despite all, I realized it still required a whole hour of cooking to become edible.
Luckily, I knew ahead of time that cooking octopus could produce quite a fishy smell while cooking, which I’m not very fond of, so I’ve decided to add some aromatic ingredients to it, to both tone down the smell, and also to add flavor and aroma to the octopus itself. I therefore cooked it with fennel greens, lemon, garlic and jalapeno pepper, which helped in both.
To enhance these flavors, I used fresh fennel and lemon in the salad I had in mind, along with white beans, sun dried tomatoes, oil cured olives and capers. Finishing the salad with fresh lemon juice and olive oil, was the obvious choice, as octopus pairs so well with such Mediterranean flavors and ingredients.
I served the salad warm, soon after cooking, but in the summer, it can be kept in the fridge for a few hours and served cold.
The salad is perfect for a weekend brunch, or a light dinner, with crusty bread on the side. Try it and enjoy.

Makes: 4-6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

1 large fennel head
1 large juicy lemon, washed
1 large garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
½ small jalapeno pepper, deseeded
3 bay leaves
21.2 oz (600 grams) blanched pre-cut frozen octopus, thawed, washed and drained
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 can (15 oz/425 grams) Great Northern Beans, drained and washed
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground four peppers mix
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
9-10 oil cured black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 Tbs capers, drained
2 Tbs fennel greens, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Cut off the lower part of the fennel, and keep the greens for the salad. Place the green stems in a large pot. Slice the bulb and place in a medium bowl.
  2. With a vegetable peeler, peel the lemon zest. Add half of the strips to the green stems in the pot. Finely chop the rest, and add to the sliced fennel in the bowl. Juice the lemon, and mix with the sliced fennel. Cut the juiced lemon into large sections, and add to the pot.
  3. Add the garlic, jalapeno, bay leaves, octopus, salt and vinegar to the pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 50 minutes, or until a fork can be inserted fairly easily into one piece (it will still have a bite). Drain, discard the fennel stems, bay leaves, jalapeno, lemon and garlic, and place in a large bowl.
  4. Add the beans, 2 tsp salt and pepper, and mix gently. Add the sliced fennel with lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, 2 Tbs chopped fennel greens and olive oil. Mix gently, taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Add lemon wedges on the side, and serve while still warm.

43 thoughts on “Warm Octopus, Beans and Fennel Salad”

  1. Octopus salads are a real favorite of ours. I love the addition of fennel, especially — such a nice pairing. And I love that we can buy pre-cooked octopus. It makes everything so much easier.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you David, the crisp fennel added such nice flavor and texture to the salad.
      I was quite surprised that the pre-cut and blanched octopus still required a whole hour of cooking, but it definitely still beats fighting with a fresh one! 🙂


  2. Sounds just great with this aromatic broth! And the combination with fennel and beans is very interesting. I’ll give it a try with some big tiger prawns (like Judi!), because octopus is very rare to find here – although I live close to the sea. Simmer the broth first with the prawn shells to get its flavour!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Felix, the combination of creamy beans with the crunchy fresh fennel worked really well.
      Prawns can be a good substitute for the octopus, and an aromatic broth from the shells is always a good idea.
      Looking forward to seeing your version! 🙂


  3. I don’t know whether I could find Octopus here. I do remember having it in Greece and watching the Fishermen or the Tavern owners out smashing it on the rocks to tenderise it. It actually works, I used to love it.
    This salad sounds lovely with all the bright flavours. Maybe Squid would be okay? I know I can get that frozen with a minimum of cooking.
    Thanks Ronit :))

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mary, I can also recall fishermen tenderizing octopus this way in Greece – and I was very glad to not have to do that!
      Squid can definitely be used instead of the octopus, or, as others suggested here in the comments, prawns. No doubt the cooking time will be much shorter.
      I would suggest to cook it with the aromatic ingredients, as with the octopus, to give it more flavor.
      I hope you’ll enjoy the salad! 🙂


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