Although more a summery dish, today was relatively mild here in New York, so I felt like creating a lighter dinner with octopus and vegetables tonight. For added flavor without the fat, I use a grill top that I place on my stove, get it piping hot, spray it with some Pam, and place cut up vegetables like halves bell peppers, zucchini rounds, thinly sliced eggplant (I rub these with salt about 1/2 hour before cooking to extract some moisture, prevents them from getting bitter and soggy when eating), red onion, portobello mushrooms (Meaty, rich and earthy in flavor) and lastly I add on strips of pre-boiled octopus (or squid). I season the vegetables with salt and pepper before adding them on to the grill, and then I will drizzle some fresh lemon juice over the octopus in the end and season with salt and pepper. Here is the grill top I use, it’s a Lodge Logic pro cast-iron skillet, and you can get these at any store like Walmart, Target, etc. for around $40 and they last FOREVER! Definitely worth the investment.
You can use this to grill your skirt steak, chicken and scallops to create that charred flavor you get from the BBQ, and the nice cross-patterns on the protein are always attractive to look at – remember we eat with our eyes!
The key to making delicious squid, is to boil it before grilling it. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, place the octopus in the water, turn down to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. Make sure the grill is blazing hot before you place the squid on the grill, DO NOT TO OVER COOK IT! FIve minutes on each side should do it (and don’t mess with it while it’s on the grill, to prevent it from sticking and making a mess). If you’ve ever had octopus you may have remembered it as rubbery and chewy, this is because 90% of people serving it in restaurants don’t cook it correctly. When cooked right, it is tender, and has a delicious flavor and texture. Squid may look like parts of the “Alien” before you cook it, but just stay open minded and I swear you will have found your new favorite protein!
Keep in mind that octopus contains a lot of water, and therefore will shrink when cooked, so you will end up with a lot less than what you have in the beginning.
Three ounces of octopus (raw) contains 70 calories, 13g of protein, less than 1g fat, 2g carbohydrates and is a good source of potassium, zinc and vitamin B12. You can fill up on vegetables as a side like the ones I mentioned above, I choose not to include any starchy carbs in the evening, as I do better adding them in earlier in my day when I’m more active and crave them.
I also like octopus served with a chickpea puree, salsa and drizzled with a little vinegar, or topped on a nice, green salad. You can spice it up with oregano or chili pepper, and add it to a stew with onions, potatoes and smoked paprika.
For those cheat meals; delicious when added to pasta w/tomato sauce too! Substitute squid for shrimp if you’d like (no need to preboil the shrimp and you only need to grill the shrimp 1 minute on each side). Bon appetit!