Octopus with Fava Beans

Katerina Xekalou, proprietor and chef of the acclaimed restaurant Avli on the island of Crete, gives us her take on a classic Greek octopus recipe.
Styling by Katherine Rosen / Photo by Meg Baggott

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.

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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.

Tips

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.

Published on February 14, 2018
About the Author
Susan Kostrzewa
Executive Editor

Reviews wines from Greece and Cyprus.

Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa joined Wine Enthusiast in 2006, when she moved from Sonoma, California, to Manhattan. Kostrzewa has written and edited wine, food and travel stories for the past 14 years, and oversees all editorial direction of Wine Enthusiast Magazine and WineMag.com, in addition to the tasting programs. Kostrzewa co-edited the Wine Enthusiast Wine & Food Pairings book and has co-authored numerous books on wine and travel in her career. Email: skostrze@wineenthusiast.net



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