Chef, restaurateur, food writer and author Skye Gyngell recently released her fourth cookbook, named for her new London restaurant. Dive into some of the recipes that have made her one of the most celebrated chefs in the city. With a spotlight on fresh, flavorful and inventive cuisine that makes the most of local gardens and markets, Spring has definitely sprung. A certain cephalopod told us so.
Octopus — cooked slowly until it is meltingly tender — is wonderful to eat, and its long, languid, purple-colored tentacles have a striking appearance on the plate. Scattered with capers and olives, and accompanied by nutty young potatoes and cima di rapa, it tastes perfect at room temperature. As a rule, I am averse to the use of frozen food, but this cephalopod is an exception — octopus that has been frozen first gives a much more tender end result.
For the octopus
- 1 octopus (about 4 1/2 pounds), frozen and fully defrosted
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- A small bunch thyme sprigs
- A small bunch flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves separated
- 2 bay leaves
- 15 black peppercorns
For the salad
- 1 1/2 pounds little potatoes (ideally Roseval or Ratte)
- extra-virgin olive oil, for dressing
- juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
- A bunch of cima di rapa, trimmed and well rinsed (or you could use spinach)
- 20 black olives
- 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, well rinsed
- A small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- lemon wedges, to serve
For the octopus salad
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rinse the octopus well under cold running water. Now prize out its beak at the center of its head (it will pop out easily). Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Plunge the octopus into the boiling water, bring back to a boil, then lift the octopus out of the water and place directly in a large roasting tin.
Pour on the wine and olive oil, and add about 4 cups water to the roasting tin. Scatter the thyme sprigs, parsley stalks, bay leaves, and peppercorns over the octopus. Cover the tin securely with foil and cook on the middle shelf of the oven 1½ hours. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the octopus is cooling, prepare the rest of the salad. Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with cold water, add a large pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat until tender when pierced with a small, sharp knife. Drain the potatoes, cut into quarters, and dress with a little extra-virgin oil and lemon juice while still warm. Set aside.
Bring a pan of water to a boil and salt it well. Add the cima di rapa leaves and cook 2 minutes (just 1 minute for spinach). Drain and toss through the potatoes.
For the dressing, put the olives and capers into a bowl, add the parsley, lemon juice to taste, some salt and pepper, and a generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil. Stir to combine.
To serve, drain the octopus, cut into manageable pieces, and divide among plates. Pile the potatoes and cima alongside and spoon over the dressing. Serve with lemon wedges.