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.
duck, Entree, fruit, Recipes, Sauces

Braised Duck Legs with Sweet and Spicy Pineapple


Duck is the “meatier” relative of chicken: its complex flavor and unique texture make it highly suitable for bold culinary combinations, which is exactly what I had in mind.
While I more often use duck breast, this time, I had D’Artagnan’s Rohan duck legs to experiment with, and I chose a classic pairing with pineapple, along with Asian inspired sweet and spicy sauce. Continue reading “Braised Duck Legs with Sweet and Spicy Pineapple”

Beef, Cheese, Entree, Meat, Recipes, Sauces, Uncategorized

A Fairly Low-Fat Moussaka


Moussaka is a great Greek dish, of layered potatoes, fried eggplants and cooked meat, topped with a thick layer of either Béchamel sauce (milk based sauce, thickened with flour), or Mornay sauce (Béchamel sauce with cheese), creating a highly delectable and tasty combination. Continue reading “A Fairly Low-Fat Moussaka”

appetizer, Brunch, Chicken, Food, Recipes

Crispy Dry Rub Roasted Chicken Wings


Even though I’m far from being interested in any competitive sport, Super Ball Sunday is still a good reason to have chicken wings. Continue reading “Crispy Dry Rub Roasted Chicken Wings”

Entree, Food, Pasta, Recipes, Sauces, Seafood

Lemony Spaghetti, with Shrimp, Spinach and Grape Tomatoes


The combination of butter and lemon is a classic one, and for a good reason. The lemon cuts down the richness of the butter, while adding its pleasant acidity and fresh fragrance to the it. This mix is taken further in many recipes, especially those of fish and seafood, with the addition of garlic. In the following recipe, I’ve used this tasty combination to flavor a dish of spaghetti and shrimp. Continue reading “Lemony Spaghetti, with Shrimp, Spinach and Grape Tomatoes”

appetizer, Bakes, Brunch, Cheese, Entree, Recipes

Flourless Mushroom and Cheese Bake


After all the fairly heavier holiday season’s dishes, I felt it was time for some lighter dishes, yet, at the same time, filling and warming. Continue reading “Flourless Mushroom and Cheese Bake”

duck, Entree, fruit, Recipes

Orange and Quince Duck Legs


Whenever I’m lucky enough to find quince at the store, I immediately grab a few. It is such a wonderful and versatile fruit, and it is a real shame its’ season is fairly short.
On top of being such a fragrant fruit, quince has so much pectin in it, it is no wonder that its’ main use is in making jams, jellies and fruit pastes. Quince is also great for making Pate de Fruit, a recipe I have shared a while ago, and can be found HERE. Continue reading “Orange and Quince Duck Legs”

Bakes, Entree, Meat, Recipes

Mushroom and Potato Venison Meatloaf


Meatloaf is a great easy way when it comes to casual entertaining. The mix can be prepared in advance, and baked before serving. There’s no need to worry about the doneness of each portion of meat, and leftovers are always welcome the next day, by themselves or in a tasty sandwich. Continue reading “Mushroom and Potato Venison Meatloaf”

Chicken, duck, Entree, Recipes

Orange Marmalade Chicken Thighs


Upon reading Dorothy’s post in her wonderful blog “The New Vintage Kitchen”,  about her friend’s Hilda’s chicken marmalade recipe, I knew I wanted to give it a try. Such simple, yet complex at the same time, recipes, always intrigue me. The fact that the main flavoring ingredient was orange marmalade, a favorite of mine, was definitely part of the attraction. Continue reading “Orange Marmalade Chicken Thighs”

appetizer, Cheese, Entree, Recipes, turkey

Turkey Mini Patties with Herbs, Almonds and Parmesan Cheese

Dark turkey meat is one of my favorites for burgers or patties. It is more flavorful than the breast, lighter than beef, and absorbs flavors easily. However, as it can get dry quite easily, it works better with a short time of cooking, which is why mini-patties is a good choice when using it. Continue reading “Turkey Mini Patties with Herbs, Almonds and Parmesan Cheese”

Entree, Food, Recipes, Soups, Vegetables

Sweet Potato, Pumpkin and Mini Peppers Soup


Fall is here, with its cooler days and beautiful colors, which were the inspiration for the following soup’s deep orange-yellow color. Continue reading “Sweet Potato, Pumpkin and Mini Peppers Soup”