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Octopus Salad

This Octopus Salad is a classic Italian side dish that will transport you instantly to a yacht on the Mediterranean Sea!

You will love how the mild sweetness of the octopus is complimented by the earthiness of the potatoes and brought together with your favorite Italian flavors: lemon, garlic, and parsley. 

Octopus salad in a bowl on a wooden board.
Wildly delicious!

Don’t be frightened by the prospect of cooking octopus! It’s a gorgeously mild, sweet seafood that is delightfully tender when cooked correctly. If you love my Calamari Fritti or Calamarata Pasta, this delicious Italian Octopus Salad should be added to your recipe collection!

Serve this Octopus Salad as an appetizer, a side dish, or a light main with crusty bread. This seafood salad is ideal for entertaining because it can be made ahead of time and actually tastes better once the octopus and potatoes have marinated in the dressing. It’s the perfect simple and fresh salad!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Prepare ahead of time – this Italian Octopus salad is perfect for entertaining because it tastes best when prepared in advance! 
  • Flavorful – the simple Italian flavors in this salad really make the octopus sing. Beautiful zesty lemon juice, parsley, and garlic are a match made in heaven.
  • Easier than you think – don’t worry if you’ve never cooked octopus! It’s not as difficult as you think, and I’ve included many tips to help you succeed. 
  • Tender octopus – the delicious meat is so tender and easy to eat. If you love calamari or squid, then this is a dish for you!

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe as in the recipe card.
  • Octopus – Frozen octopus is generally readily available from fishmongers and some grocery stores. Use frozen whole octopus or, as I do, frozen octopus tentacles. If you want to use fresh octopus, freeze it overnight before cooking. Freezing tenderizes the octopus. 
  • Potatoes – regular, all-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon Golds, work well here. 
  • Olive oil – extra virgin olive oil is my preference in this Octopus Salad.
  • Lemons – You’ll need one lemon for freshly squeezed lemon juice in the salad and another for serving. 
  • Parsley – chopped fresh parsley works best in this salad. 
  • Red onion – you’ll only need half, finely chopped. 
  • Garlic – look for fresh, juicy garlic cloves to either chop finely or mince. 
  • Salt and Peppercorns

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse the octopus under running water, then set it aside.

Cutting cooked octopus tentacles.

Simmer gently until tender when pierced in the thickest part. Once cooked, remove from the water and cool completely before cutting into 1-inch pieces. 

Cooked, peeled potatoes cut into cubes.

Wash the potatoes well and cook in plenty of salted boiling water until tender. Drain and peel the potatoes. Cut into 1-inch pieces. 

A fork in a glass jug of oil with garlic being added; parsley and lemon on the side.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Pouring oily liquid onto cubes potatoes, cooked pieces of octopus and sliced red onion.

Gently combine the octopus pieces and potatoes with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Hint: The key to tender octopus is to cook it hot and fast or long and slow. Be sure not to have the octopus boiling furiously on the stove. Turn the heat down so that it gently simmers. Italian nonnas believe adding a wine cork to the cooking water will ensure a tender octopus. It can’t hurt!

Substitutions

  • Octopus – if you’re not a fan of octopus, you can substitute it with another seafood of your choice, like shrimp, calamari, or even lobster.
  • Lemon juice – you could use bottled lemon or lime juice instead of freshly squeezed lemon juice. 
  • Garlic – while I prefer finely dicing fresh garlic, you could substitute store-bought jarred minced garlic. 

Variations

  • Bay leaves and peppercorns – add extra flavor to the octopus while cooking by adding fresh or dried bay leaves and peppercorns to the cooking water.
  • Vegetables – want to add more vegetables to the salad? Try adding some sweet cherry tomatoes or chopped bell peppers. 
  • Burst of flavor – personalize the flavors in this salad to suit your taste! Capers, olives, dried oregano, or even red pepper flakes would make delicious additions. 
  • Pre-cooked octopus – make this seafood salad super fast to prepare using pre-cooked octopus. 

Equipment

You don’t need any fancy equipment to make this salad. The most important kitchen equipment is a large stock pot to boil the octopus.

Storage

Store the Octopus Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. You can certainly enjoy this salad cold from the refrigerator. However, I prefer to remove the salad from the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before consuming it. This takes the harsh chill from the salad and allows the flavors to shine.  

Top tip

Overhead view of a bowl of salad made up of pieces of octopus tentacles and potatoes.
  • To cook the octopus, dip the octopus tentacles into the boiling water, then lift them out. Repeat this 3 or 4 times. This will cause the tentacles to curl nicely for good presentation.
  • Simmer the octopus on a gentle heat. Don’t boil vigorously.
  • Cooking time for the octopus can vary. Test by piercing the thickest part with a fork. If it goes in easily, the octopus is ready. If not, simmer for a bit longer.
  • Allow the octopus to cool for 5 minutes in the cooking liquid, then drain and cool completely. After cooking and cooling, remove and discard any gelatinous bits of skin.
  • I like the salad tangy with lemon juice, but it can be adjusted if you prefer less. And, of course, more lemon juice can be added as each diner likes.
  • This Octopus Salad is best prepared in advance. Aim for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours of marinating in the refrigerator. The longer the rest time, the more flavor your salad will have.

FAQ

What does octopus taste like?

Octopus meat is white, with a firm but tender texture similar to calamari or squid. When cooked properly, it shouldn’t be tough. The flavor is light and mild, again similar to calamari, squid, and crab. You’ll love that in my Octopus Salad recipe; the octopus takes on so much of the lemony garlic flavors. 

What is the secret to tender octopus?

Cooking tender octopus is not as difficult as it may seem. It is, however, important not to boil the octopus too vigorously. Instead, the octopus should cook slowly in simmering water. Octopus sizes vary, as does the cooking time, so testing whether it is cooked is important. A fork should be able to pierce the thickest part of the octopus easily. 

Is Octopus Salad healthy?

This Octopus Salad is a wonderful example of the Mediterranean Diet. Octopus is rich in “good fats” and a delicious source of protein. You won’t find any processed foods in this Italian salad, just deliciously tasty whole foods like lemon, potatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic. 

Serving Suggestions

The thin end of octopus tentacle rolled up in a spoon with potato cubes and pieces of octopus tentacles beside.

I love serving this Octopus Salad as part of a larger spread when I’m entertaining for family and friends. It’s delicious alongside my Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, Semolina Bread, Italian Fried Peppers, and, of course, finished with something sweet like my Coconut Panna Cotta

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
Stuffed Squid
Greek Couscous Salad
Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

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Octopus salad in a bowl on a wooden board.

Octopus Salad Recipe

The subtle sweetness of the octopus mingles beautifully with the earthy character of the potatoes, all tied together with the classic Italian trinity: lemon, garlic, and parsley.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Review
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings:4 people
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 2,2 pounds (1 kilogram) frozen octopus cleaned (or ask your fishmonger to clean it)
  • 4 large potatoes 1½ pounds/680 grams potatoes
  • Salt for boiling octopus and potatoes
  • ½ cup sliced red onion

Dressing

  • ½ cup (120 mls) olive oil
  • cup chopped fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup (60 mls) lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra lemon wedges for serving

Instructions

  • Thaw the frozen octopus completely, then rinse quickly under cold running water. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water and 1 heaped tablespoon of salt to a boil.
  • When the water is boiling, dip the octopus tentacles in the water 3 times, then fully submerge.
  • Bring back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 25-35 minutes or until tender when pierced in the thickest part with a fork.
  • In the meantime, cook the potatoes. Wash the potatoes well and place them in a large pot, cover with cold water, and add 1 heaped tablespoon of salt.
  • Bring the water to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and peel them. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces and place them in a large bowl with the sliced red onion.
  • When the octopus is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and let the octopus cool in the cooking water for 5 minutes.
  • Drain the octopus and allow to cool completely before cutting it into 1-inch pieces. Add the chopped octopus to the bowl with the potatoes.
  • Pour the dressing over the octopus and potatoes. Stir gently but thoroughly to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Make the dressing

  • In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, chopped parsley, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside until needed.

Notes

Tips for Success
  • Dip the octopus tentacles in boiling water a few times, then lift them out. Repeat 3-4 times.
  • Simmer the octopus on low heat, not a vigorous boil.
  • Pierce the thickest part with a fork. If it enters easily, the octopus is cooked. Otherwise, simmer a bit longer.
  • Let the octopus cool for 5 minutes in the cooking liquid. Then, remove and cool completely. Any gelatinous parts can be removed.
  • Add more garlic to the dressing if you prefer a garlicky flavor.
  • Dress the salad with lemon juice to your desired level of tang. You can adjust further at the table. 
  • Prepare the salad in advance and marinate for at least 30 minutes, ideally up to 2 hours, for the best flavor.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 590kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 1170mg | Potassium: 1670mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 801IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 169mg | Iron: 15mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this and it’s wonderful! I used spring onion instead of red onion though and added some sliced celery for crunch. Amazing!