A traditional Puerto Rican delicacy, ensalada de pulpo (octopus salad) is a vibrant, fresh seafood salad that is perfect for Lent or Easter celebrations.
I love octopus! Actually, I love all seafood, but octopus was always a special treat when my dad prepared it, Puerto Rican style. Puerto Ricans enjoy a bounty of seafood thanks to the island’s location in the Caribbean, and they sure know how make it delish! If you’ve never had ensalada de pulpo (octopus salad) before, it’s very similar to calamari in taste and texture. I like using frozen octopus for this ensalada de pulpo recipe, because that usually means it’s already been cleaned, i.e. less weirdness to deal with. If you can’t find frozen octopus, talk to your fish monger, he can clean up fresh octopus for you. Then, all you have to do is boil it until it’s tender, and you’re ready to put this amazing ensalada de pulpo together. My Puerto Rican octopus salad is a filling and healthy dish that can be served any time of year, but it’s especially popular to serve during Lent, when Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays. My half Puerto Rican/ half Colombian husband grew up Catholic, so he introduced me to meatless Fridays. This is one of our go to faves, along with gazpacho and bacalao guisado.
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 rosemary sprig
2 lbs of octopus (1 large one or 5-6 small ones)
1/3 cup red onion or shallot, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup fire roasted red bell peppers, chopped
1/4 cup olives, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons non-pareil capers, drained
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Ensalada de Pulpo (Octopus Salad)
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 3 lbs of octopus 1 large one or 5-6 small ones
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 15 pimento olives halved
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
Place the frozen octopus in a large stock pot. Cover with water, and add in the bay leaves, rosemary, garlic, peppercorns, white vinegar and a few pinches of salt.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook the octopus until it’s tender. You can poke the thickest part of it with a knife. If it slides in easily, it’s ready. A large octopus will take about an hour, the baby ones take about 30 minutes.
When the octopus is done, remove it from the pan, and allow to cool for a few minutes. You can rinse it off to remove any loose skin and residue.
Chop the octopus into chunks, and place in a bowl. Add in the chopped onion, pepper, olives, parsley, olives, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.
Stir the mixture together, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, so the flavors can marry.