Nov 16, 2017

Charred Octopus with White Bean and Tomato Salad and Guanciale

Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs
Add the white beans and cooked guanciale, tossing to combine. Toss the mixture with half the vinaigrette and cook for an additional minute.

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This Italian-style appetizer combines charred octopus with a warm white bean and cherry tomato salad tossed in a vinaigrette made from the rendered fat of the guanciale (an Italian cured meat from pork jowls). While octopus may seem like a restaurant-only dish, it’s actually not that difficult to prepare at home. It just requires some time to ensure it turns out tender.

Charred Octopus with White Bean and Tomato Salad and Guanciale

Cooking Octopus

The octopus in this recipe is slowly cooked using the sous vide method. First, the octopus is added to a vacuum seal bag. There’s nowhere for the juices to go, as a result the octopus cooks slowly at a low temperature and remains tender as it cooks. Utilizing an immersion circulator allows you to precisely control the temperature of the water bath. As a result, the octopus is cooked evenly. To finish the dish, the octopus is charred in a cast iron pan, resulting in firm but tender octopus with a smoky exterior.

What is the Octopus Served With?

  • Guiancale
  • White beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Parsley

sous vide octopus cooking with cocktail rings

Key Ingredients in this Recipe

  • Octopus – When buying octopus, look for frozen octopus rather than fresh. This is one of the few instances where frozen is better than fresh because freezing it actually works to tenderize the meat. While an octopus may seem larger when you are buying it, keep in mind that it cooks down and will reduce in size significantly.
  • White beans – Cannellini beans, sometimes called white kidney beans have a smooth texture and subtle nutty flavor. I typically use drained and rinsed canned beans in this recipe to cut down on the prep work and time. To substitute with dried beans they need to be soaked then simmered until tender.
  • Guiancale – Guiancale is cured pork with a high percentage of fat that comes from pig jowls, seasoned with salt, pepper, sage, rosemary and garlic. It’s often used to make bucatini all’amatriciana. Here it adds texture to this recipe while the rendered fat becomes the base of the vinaigrette.
  • Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes give this recipe texture and their juice complements the vinaigrette well.

Charred Octopus with Warm White Bean and Tomato Salad and Guanciale Vinaigrette

How to Make Sous Vide Octopus

  1. Vacuum seal the octopus. Set the immersion circulator to 180ºF. Season the octopus with salt and pepper then add it to a large vacuum seal bag.
  2. Sous vide the octopus. Vacuum seal the bag then submerge in the immersion circulator for 4 hours to sous vide.
  3. Separate the tentacles. Remove the octopus from the water bath then discard the cooking liquid and rub the cooked octopus dry with paper towels. Separate tentacles and cut into equal lengths.
  4. Char the octopus in a pan. Use a pastry brush to coat the octopus in the olive oil. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the octopus to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until charred, about 8 minutes.
  5. Cook the guanciale. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the guanciale and sauté until fat has rendered and the meat is crispy. Remove the guanciale from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and reserve the rendered fat in a medium heat-proof mixing bowl.
  6. Make the vinaigrette. Whisk the fat with the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and red pepper until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook the tomatoes. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the tomatoes and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
  8. Make the warm salad. Add the white beans and cooked guanciale, tossing to combine. Toss the mixture with half the vinaigrette and cook for an additional minute.
  9. Serve. Plate the bean and tomato mixture on a platter and top with the parsley and the octopus. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the remaining dressing over the top and serve immediately.

Charred Octopus with Warm White Bean and Tomato Salad and Guanciale Vinaigrette closeup cooking with cocktail rings

Other Recipes to Try

Charred Octopus with Warm White Bean and Tomato Salad and Guanciale Vinaigrette

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Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs

Ingredients:

For the octopus:

  • 3 pounds octopus, cleaned, head and beak (if still attached) removed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the guanciale vinaigrette:

  • 4 ounces diced guanciale
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For serving:

  • cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions:

For the octopus:

  • Set the immersion circulator to 180ºF. Season the octopus with salt and pepper then add it to a large vacuum seal bag. Vacuum seal the bag then submerge in the immersion circulator for 4 hours to sous vide.
  • Remove the octopus from the water bath then discard the cooking liquid and rub the cooked octopus dry with paper towels. Separate tentacles and cut into equal lengths.
  • Use a pastry brush to coat the octopus in the olive oil. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the octopus to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until charred, about 8 minutes.

For the guanciale vinaigrette:

  • Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the guanciale and sauté until fat has rendered and the meat is crispy. Remove the guanciale from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and reserve the rendered fat in a medium heat-proof mixing bowl.
  • Whisk the fat with the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and red pepper until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For serving:

  • Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the tomatoes and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the white beans and cooked guanciale, tossing to combine. Toss the mixture with half the vinaigrette and cook for an additional minute.
  • Plate the bean and tomato mixture on a platter and top with the parsley and the octopus. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the remaining dressing over the top and serve immediately.

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  1. Made this recipe for Christmas Eve but made the following modifications:
    -sub fresh octopus for cooked Atlantic octopus (ideally from the Iberian peninsula)
    -grilled the octopus on a charcoal grill
    -skipped the guanciale as I couldn’t find the ingredient
    -used top shelf olive oil

    The quality of the octopus was very good, putting it over the charcoal grill charred it and took it over the edge. Dressing was simple and lemony, just as it should be. Delicious!