In a century-old building in Seattle’s lively Capitol Hill neighborhood, Oddfellows Café epitomizes the city’s creative but laid-back nature, with rustic charm and market-driven cuisine that’s both comforting and keenly refined. Owner Linda Derschang suggests this easy but impressive starter or light entrée. “The octopus just soaks up the lemon and perfectly offsets the tomato and onion. So simple, but beautiful,” Derschang says.
1½ lbs cleaned baby octopus, halved*
2 cups white wine
Zest of one lemon, juice reserved
1 bay leaf
1 pint mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved (quartered if large)
½ yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh summer savory, coarsely chopped (or substitute fresh mint)
Small bunch fresh chervil, leaves picked (or substitute coarsely chopped parsley)
4 cups (about 4 ounces) arugula
1 small Walla Walla sweet onion (or other sweet onion), thinly julienned
2 cloves garlic, chopped
To prepare the octopus: Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse the octopus, and put in a medium roasting pan with wine, lemon zest and bay leaf (add water if necessary to cover octopus). Cover pan and cook until tender, about 1½ hours. Remove octopus from oven, drain in a colander and allow to cool.
To make the salad: While octopus is cooling, combine tomatoes, pepper, herbs, arugula and most of the onion (reserve small handful) in a shallow salad bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on medium high heat, and sauté octopus until the edges become crispy. Add garlic and remaining onion, cook for another minute, then add lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let cool before tossing with the salad. Serves 4.
*Baby octopus is available at most seafood markets, Whole Foods and the frozen section of many large supermarkets.
Wine recommendation: This fresh summertime dish will pair magnificently with a barrel-fermented Pinot Gris, its honey and lemon notes a great match for the onions, garlic and peppers. Try the 2009 Breggo Anderson Valley Wiley Vineyard Pinot Gris, golden colored and unctuously rich. —Virginie Boone