This deceptively easy salad combines ready-to-eat octopus, black-eyed peas and linguiça in a 30-minute dish that would take hours to make from scratch. But no one has to know that. It’s perfect for a late spring or summer gathering outdoors, and hearty enough to serve alone as a light lunch, or as part of a larger meal. Impress guests with your grill skills by preparing it table side. Slice the octopus and linguiça hot off the grill, and toss it with black-eyed peas, tart cherry tomatoes and sweet vidalia onions. Dress the salad with lemon juice, vinegar and plenty of good olive oil, then top it with a generous handful of fresh parsley and cilantro right before serving. Rainy day? No problem. Crisp the octopus and linguiça in a skillet on the stove. Serve with chilled Portuguese wine.
Servings: 6 to 8
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas*
2 cups small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery, small dice
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 lemon, zest and juice, more to taste
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
8 oz. Portuguese linguiça sausage**
4 cooked octopus legs (about 1-1/3 lb.)***
1/4 cup fresh roughly chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh roughly chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, more to taste
- Heat a char grill to medium-high heat.
- In a small saucepan, gently heat the black-eyed peas in a little of their cooking liquid. Cover them and set aside at room temperature.
- In a large bowl, combine the tomato, onions and celery. Add the sherry vinegar and lemon zest. Season the mixture with a little salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Lightly oil the grill. When it stops smoking, arrange the the linguiça on it. Gently heat the sausage, turning and rotating it a couple times so it browns evenly. It’s ready-to-eat sausage so you’re just searing and re-heating it.
- Meanwhile, season the octopus legs with black pepper and a very small pinch of salt. Lightly oil another section of the grill. When it stops smoking, arrange the octopus on it. Leave the octopus undisturbed until it’s lightly charred on one side. Gently release it from the grill, flip it over and grill the other side.
- Drain the black-eyed peas and add them to the bowl of tomato and onions. The beans should not be hot, but just warm enough to gently wilt the onions and soften the tomatoes. Add the lemon juice, and olive oil.
- Transfer the charred octopus and grilled sausage to a cutting board. Slice them into bite sized pieces and toss them with the black-eyed pea tomato mixture.
- Adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon juice, olive oil, salt or pepper to taste.
- Spoon the salad onto a serving dish and top it with a generous handful of chopped parsley and cilantro.
- Serve immediately.
*If you can’t find canned black-eyed peas at the store, cooking your own will make this salad even better. Just soak 1 cup dry black eyed peas in 3 to 4 cups of water overnight. To cook, drain the beans and place them in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans partially covered for 30 to 35 minutes until they’re cooked through but still firm. Stir in 1 tsp. of salt and let the beans cool in their cooking liquid. It should yield the 3 cups drained beans that you need for this recipe.
**Linguiça is a mild, hot-smoked pork sausage spiced with garlic, paprika, and vinegar. It’s similar to its more well known cousin chouriço, which is spicier and made with larger beef casing rather than pork casing. Large Portuguese populations in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, make the region home to some of the best Portuguese style sausage producers. When I was living there, I could find them in any supermarket. In other areas of the country can seek them out in specialty grocery stores or order them online. I’ve ordered from Gaspar’s Sauasge of North Dartmouth or Mello’s Chouriço of Fall River.
***Fish mongers and a lot of supermarkets (even Costco!) now carry octopus legs from Spain or Portugal already cooked, vacuum packed and frozen. Just thaw and eat! If you’re feeling ambitious, cooking whole octopus at home is not complicated. The trick is simmering it very gently for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until it’s tender, but not overcooked. I like to add a cut lemon, sliced onion, sliced fennel, and some red or white wine to the pot. Oh and the octopus likes to float so you have to put a colander or something on top to keep it submerged and cooking evenly. The window between chewy and “whoops the skin and suckers are falling off” is quite narrow. No matter how many times I’ve done it, it still feels pretty good when I get it right.