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Octopus with Fava Beans

Courtesy Katerina Xekalou, Proprietor/Chef, Avli

Though meat may not be a cornerstone of Cretan cuisine, seafood has long been a local delicacy. A simple fava bean puree forms the base for this dish, lightly flavored with lemon, onion and oregano, allowing slow-simmered octopus to be the star of the show in this classic Greek recipe.

Ingredients for Fava Beans

1½ cups fava beans, shelled
1 medium onion, thin-sliced
½ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (or parsley leaves)
Salt and fresh-ground pepper, to taste

Directions for Fava Beans

In medium pot over high heat, combine beans with 6 cups water. Bring to boil, then lower heat and stir continuously for 10 minutes. Add onion, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until beans soften.

While beans are still warm, remove shells. Add olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper. Blend or mash with fork until it resembles a puree.

Ingredients for Octopus

1 (1–1½ pound) octopus
3 large onions, sliced
½ cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons red wine
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ cup tomato puree
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
Pepper, to taste

Directions for Octopus

Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to large pot water and bring to boil. Add octopus, and cook until softened. (Time will depend on the type of octopus used. For larger, thicker octopus this can be up to 1 hour.)

In sauté pan, fry onions in oil. Sprinkle ⅜ teaspoon salt over onion to sweat. Cook until caramelized.

After boiling, cut octopus into bite-size pieces, and place in pan with onions. Add wine, remaining vinegar, tomato and herbs. Simmer until octopus is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Serve fava beans at room temperature. Top with octopus. Serves 6.


Prepare the fava bean puree a few hours in advance and reserve in refrigerator. Just before use, adjust salt, pepper, lemon juice to your liking.

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