Octopus in Red Wine and Tomato is a very traditional dish in the Greek islands. In this version, I cook it in a Healthier way and serve it with Fresh Green Bean Salad. The Soft and Melting Octopus combined with the Al Dente texture of the Green Beans serves a dynamite of Flavour and Nutrients!
Octopus was for sure one of my favourite dishes as a kid. Of course it wasn't something that we would eat every week, it's one of this foods that you can't eat often, but when you do, you want it to be perfect. And cooking the perfect octopus is not always easy, it depends on the octopus and of course on the way you cook it, because it can very easily become hard and chewy.
In Greece it is often served with some kind of small pasta. You can always do it like this (more info in the Alternatives section of the recipe), but I find it too heavy.
Instead, I served them with a Fresh Green Bean Salad which gives a great contrast of flavours and textures. This and some Buckwheat Bread to dip into the sauce, was the perfect lunch.
From my experience, the Secrets to cook an octopus that is melting in the mouth, are:
1. After you clean it and cut it in pieces, remove its excess water by "frying" it without any oil. It won't get burned because the water will start coming out. Just don't fry it too much, usually 5 minutes or so, until you see that there is not more water coming out.
2. Then cook it in your alcohol and sauce of preference. Do not use water. Dry Wine is one of the best options.
3. Do not add any salt, probably it won't be needed. Try it in the end and if it's necessary, add it then.
4. And of course, the capacity of the Octopus itself. The younger it is, the softer it can become during cooking.
Octopus is rich in so many Vitamins and Minerals, plus it has a high amount of lean protein. It also has some cholesterol and heavy metals, as almost all seafood, but only balance is the key to stay healthy. Some of it's most important nutrients are:
Vitamin B12 - Responsible for making red blood cells and helping your body use fatty acids. Can be a hard nutrient for vegetarians and vegans.
Selenium - Aids in cellular growth, boosts immune function and works with vitamin E as an antioxidant.
Iron - Keeps your immune system healthy and aids in brain development.
Copper - A trace mineral which helps your body make Hemoglobin (which carries oxygen from the lungs or gills to the rest of the body).
Vitamin B6 - Turns tryptophan (an amino acid) into niacin and serotonin which are important for mental health. It also helps produce insulin, antibodies and Hemoglobin.
Omega-3 fatty acids - Important for heart health.
Fresh Green Beans are low in calories but high in Fibre, Vitamin A, C, K, B6 and Folic Acid. In terms of minerals they are a good source of Calcium, Silicon, Iron, Manganese, Potassium, Copper. They also have some amounts of good quality protein and no cholesterol. This makes them the perfect food for Cancer, Heart problems, Digestion issues, Diabetes, Eye health and Bone health.
Tomato is also one of the main ingredients. It is full of Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which is known for reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, macular degeneration and even sunburn. It's also known for multiplying itself and being more effective when the tomato is cooked! Also, tomatoes have high amounts of Beta-Carotene.
Parsley is used during the cooking of the sauce and as a spread and it is one of the richest herbs that I know for cooking. Parsley has a very strong antioxidant value and for that reason it's an easy way to upgrade many of your dishes. Some of its most important vitamins are Vitamin A, C, K, B6 and is also full of minerals such as Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
Red Wine is a great ingredient for cooking, as it gives an incredible aroma. As long as you use Dry wine, you only get the benefits because the alcohol is evaporated and you get no sugar from it.
Cooking time: 45m-1h
- 1-2 fresh Octopuses
- 1-2 Onions
- 1 can of Tomato Sauce
- 1 teaspoon of Tomato Paste
- Dry Red Wine
- Half cup of White Vinegar
- 3-4 Bay Leaves
- Lots of Fresh Parsley cut in pieces
- 2-3 tablespoons of Olive oil and/or Coconut Oil
- Himalayan Pink Salt (or other type of natural Sea Salt), Black Pepper, Paprika powder
- For the garnish: Fresh Green Beans, Sea Salt, Garlic (fresh or powder), Black Pepper, Olive Oil. (check the Alternatives section for pasta options)
1. Clean your Fresh Beans (you just need to cut the stem) and boil them for some minutes. You will know they are ready when the colour has changed and you can eat them but they are still a bit al dente. Drain them, wash with some cold water and add them in a bowl. Add Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic and Oil. Mix and leave aside.
2. In the mean time, clean and and cut your Octopus into medium sized pieces. Alternatively, ask your fisher man to do it for you. Leave aside.
3. Chop your onions and put them in a hot pan, with 2-4 tablespoon of water (no oil is needed). "Fry" it until it becomes soft and add more water if needed.
4. When the onion is soft enough and there is no excess water in the pan, add the Octopus. Let it cook like this for some minutes until it loses all it´s excess water and starts becoming softer.
5. When you see that no more water is coming out of the octopus and that it´s softer, add Wine (to cover it), Vinegar, Tomato, Bay Leaves, Oil, Black Pepper, Paprika (no salt yet) and let it slow cook on medium fire. Occasionally check to make sure it´s not stuck and mix it.
6. As long as the fire in not set on maximum temperature, you just need to check it every few minutes. When the sauce is a bit thicker and many of the Octopus suction cups are mixed in the sauce, it means that the food is ready. Also, check that you can cut it with a spoon. If you can, then it´s ready for sure.
7. Add your Parsley (1-2 handfuls of it) and your Oil (I mix olive oil and coconut oil). Taste some and add Salt if needed (I usually don´t put any salt in it). Wait 2 minutes or so and remove from fire.
8. You food is ready! Serve it like in the photos and top with some more Oil and Parsley.
Instead of Green Beans you may boil some type of Whole Grain Pasta and mix it with the Octopus sauce. For healthier results, I would suggest Buckwheat Pasta, Oat Pasta, or if you can find, buy pasta made from Legume Flour (like Chickpea Pasta or Red Lentil Pasta).
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