Ensaladilla de pulpo
One of the many top-class dishes served at our cortijo rural in Spain
The gastronomy in Andalucía is often a bit hit and miss, but sometimes one comes across a little gem, which, with a little extra effort suddenly becomes a restaurant-style dish, easy to make, yet full of flavour. I believe this recipe is one of those… And it’s often on the menu as a summer starter, here at our beautiful Bed and Breakfast in Iznájar.
Octopus is a particular favourite of the Spanish, and mine too, I have to say. Many people have an aversion to it because it’s meant to be chewy, but, when prepared properly, it is anything butbut, and it is worth a try when visiting this beautiful area. It is also particularly good when cooked “a la brasa”, you can try this variety at our friend Miguel’s restaurant in Salinas.
For this recipe you will need equal amounts of pulpo (octopus, use the ready-cooked or frozen if you wish, subject to what is available in your area) and new potatoes (about 250 gr each), two small to medium onions, some peppercorns, vinegar, ripe tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. Maybe use some chives to finish it off.
If you use fresh pulpo, boil according to the instructions on the packaging. Cut the pulpo and potatoes into smallish cubes, of similar size. Boil the potato cubes in salted water until they are al dente then leave to cool. In the meantime, cut one onion into slivers and put it in a pan with about 5 cl vinegar, 10 cl olive oil and some peppercorns. Leave to infuse on low heat for about 10-15 mins, check for seasoning and acidity, then leave to cool.
Peel, de-seed and cube two ripe tomatoes, slice the remaining onion and mix together with the pulpo, potatoes and the pickled onion, complete with juices. If you wish, add some chopped chives for that extra fresh flavour, then leave to sit in the fridge until chilled (overnight is best to allow all the flavours to mix together).
I finish my presentation with a few spoonfuls of “tomate rallado”, that most loved of Andalucian dishes. In essence, it is just peeled tomatoes – some people de-seed, others don’t – blended to a pulp with olive oil, salt and pepper. While it is used almost exclusively for breakfast (on toasted bread) here, I use it often in combination with cold salads. A few rucola leaves on the top, a few drops of extra virgin oil through the tomate, some black salt flakes and…. “Service please”.