Pickled octopus, avocado and cauliflower salad

Pickled octopus, avocado and cauliflower salad

Mr Wilkinson's Simply Dressed Salads
Jacqui Melville

I remember going to my Aunty Pat’s house in the Canary Islands and having pickled octopus – or pulpo as it’s known there – for the first time. It left me addicted. The combination of the pickled octopus, earthy cauliflower and avocado cream is a dream for me.


Quantity Ingredient
500g octopus tentacles, cleaned and chopped into 1 cm pieces
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large french shallot, diced
1 small baby fennel bulb, cut in half, then finely diced
300ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
100ml red wine vinegar, or any other good vinegar
pinch sugar
1 small cauliflower
60g blanched almonds
1 teaspoon garam masala
5 sorrel leaves, washed, (see glossary)
1 small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Avocado cream

Quantity Ingredient
1 ripe avocado, peeled, stone removed
1 tablespoon creme fraiche or sour cream
1 lemon, juiced


  1. Pour 1 litre water into a bowl. Add 20 ice cubes, to make an ice bath, and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan with a capacity of at least 3 litres, bring 2 litres water to the boil. Add the octopus and cook for 1 minute. Strain off the water and plunge the octopus into the ice bath.
  3. Bring fresh water to the boil in the saucepan. Carefully take the octopus out of its ice bath, add it to the fresh boiling water for another 20 seconds, then put it back into the ice bath.
  4. Quickly make a pickling liquid by combining the garlic, shallot, fennel, olive oil, vinegar and sugar in a bowl, then gently warming it in a pot. Submerge the octopus in the pickling liquid, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours. It’s better to marinate the octopus overnight, but a couple of hours will do.
  5. Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Cut the cauliflower into florets about the size of a large thumbnail. Place on a baking tray with the almonds and garam masala, drizzle with olive oil, then bake for 15–18 minutes, shaking the tray every 3 minutes or so, until the cauliflower is cooked and lightly brown. Tip the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Gently warm the octopus. Using a slotted spoon, add the octopus and pickled vegetables to the cauliflower mixture. Toss to combine, then dress with a little of the pickling liquid. Mix the sorrel and parsley through and divide among serving bowls.
  7. Blitz together the avocado cream ingredients with some salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Add a dollop to each salad. Done.
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