How to Cook Tender Octopus

How to Cook Tender Octopus and Octopus PastaHow to Cook Tender Octopus
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Octopus Pasta

Seriously, there are so many crazy ways to cook tender octopus… from beating it on a rock to slamming it against the side of your sink (ten times no less) to boiling it with wine corks. Or you can massage the cephalopod vigorously with lots of salt until it froths then plunge him into a copper pot full of boiling water. Or you can roast him in a 200°F oven for five (!) hours. Or try my simple fool-proof method below, cooking time five (!) minutes.

How to Cook Tender Octopus

The cooking method actually depends on the type of product with which you start. Here I begin with one pound of Frozen Cooked Spanish Octopus Tentacles (Pulpo Cocido) which is readily available and easy to prepare. This product can be found in the frozen seafood section of Whole Foods Market. Surprisingly, unlike other seafood, octopus’ texture might even benefit from the freezing process so fresh octopus in not considered to be superior.

The octopus is from the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean, a product of Spain. It has already been cleaned; tentacles have been separated from the head. It was cooked with salt and bay leaves, then frozen. Keep it frozen until the day before use, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Place thawed tentacles in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil then turn down immediately to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the tentacles from the pot and let cool slightly on a platter so they can be sliced.

Octopus Pasta

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Mung Bean Lovers’ Pasta

Mung Bean Lovers' PastaMung Bean Rotini & Mung Bean Sprouts in a Coconut Curry
#glutenfreevegan

Here’s a zippy gluten-free vegan pasta dish that’s full of flavor and spice, made with two different forms of mung beans. Those small green oval-shaped legumes are nutrient-dense and high in plant-based protein and dietary fiber. They are milled and ground into flour to make rotini shaped pasta. Fresh mung bean sprouts add texture and have a somewhat nutty flavor. They add more fiber, and Vitamins K and C.

I use Trader Joe’s Curry Powder with its wonderful exotic spice blend of cumin, turmeric, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, and saffron. Then I add more ground turmeric for the extra boost of flavor, color, and especially the curcumin. Curcumin is the chemical in turmeric that is responsible for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

A garnish of plenty of chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, and a drizzle of chili oil (or chili flakes) make this colorful pasta dish especially exciting and appealing!

Mung Beans Lovers’ Pasta Recipe

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Dandelion Greens Pesto

Dandelion Greens Pesto

Dandelion Greens Pesto with Fettuccine

The organic red-stemmed dandelion greens (pissenlit rouge) at the farmers market looked so perky and pretty, I couldn’t pass them up, but had no idea what I would do with them.

Turns out there was fresh fettuccine in the fridge and there seemed to be some affinity…

Dandelion greens are bitter and peppery. I paired the edgy greens in a pesto with a 3:1 ratio of slightly sweet and soft baby spinach to tone them down, but not too much. Parmesan and fruity olive oil balance the bitter flavors. Lemon juice adds bright notes. It is an intriguing yet tasty departure from our beloved basil pesto.

And apparently dandelion greens are a top source of prebiotics, a specific carbohydrate that feeds probiotics. Prebiotics are high in an indigestible fiber called inulin, which enhances the gut’s production of friendly bacteria. (Source: Cooking Light)

Dandelion Greens Pesto Recipe

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Linguine, Arugula Pesto, Edible Flowers

Linguine Arugula Pesto

Linguine with Arugula Pesto
Arugula Flowers and Borage Flowers

Arugula flowers taste just like the leaves, but maybe slightly less peppery and with an interesting hint of sweetness. They make a mighty tasty garnish for such a delicate little white blossom.

Borage flowers have much less flavor, only a whisper of cucumber taste, but what they lack in flavor they make up in color. Because the flavor is mild, borage can be used in both savory and sweet dishes, and they make any presentation pop!

arugula and borage

With Spring in full force, my garden is bursting with arugula and borage…and since they are growing side-by-side, I thought I would combine them in a pasta dish.

Arugula leaves make a peppery pesto so I lower the volume and balance the flavor with the addition of cilantro and mint. Those who are not fans of cilantro can combine the arugula with another mild-tasting herb, such as parsley.

Linguine Arugula Pesto Recipe

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Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini
Feta, Kalamata Olives, Oregano, Red Chile Flakes

These large plump shrimp have a striking golden hue. Here, the exotic flavor of saffron – that heady spice derived from the dried stigmas of a crocus – takes a simple shrimp and pasta dish to another level.

Traditional Greek ingredients – kalamata olives, oregano and feta play supporting roles as lemon “two ways” adds bright tangy notes and red chile flakes bring piquant qualities.  And while spaghetti or linguini shapes would work just fine, those robust bucatini noodles magically weave this super-satisfying dish together.

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini Recipe

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Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

It’s a sprightly mash-up of two traditional Italian pasta dishes: Paglia e Fieno and Pasta e Fagioli. Paglia e fieno, translates to “straw and hay” named for its two color fettuccine made from both egg and spinach. The yellow and green pastas are typically paired with prosciutto and peas and Parmesan. Pasta e fagioli is a brothy dish combining pasta and beans.

Here, conchigliette (small pasta shells) are paired with peas and bacon in a flavorful chicken and vermouth-based broth, brightened with fresh mint. Scoops of whole milk ricotta are stirred into the broth taking the place of the traditional rich Parmesan cream sauce. A sprightly mash-up indeed.

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta Recipe

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