Insalata di Piovra (Octopus Salad) from a Venice Cooking Vacation

Originally featured as our Recipe of the Month for June, 2005, this Insalata di Piovra (Octopus Salad) brings you classic Adriatic flavors and hails from our culinary vacation A Venice Cooking Odyssey.

Octopus is a wonderful seafood ingredient, although not as prevalent or as easy to find in the US. Throughout much of coastal Italy you will find variations of seafood salads that use octopus, squid, shrimp, bivalves, and pretty much any type of seafood you can imagine. This particular recipe is made easier by using a jar of ready-made pickled giardiniera vegetables. Be sure to get one that is high in vinegar content and not too spicy. You could also, of course, use your own pickled vegetables.

See all our cooking vacations in the Veneto.

Insalata di Piovra (Octopus Salad)Fresh fish at Puglia sea port

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 to 1 1/2 hours
Cook method: Simmer


  • 1 big octopus (1 to 1 ½ kilos)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 1 small jar of pickled giardiniera vegetables
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of parsley

A fresh seafood salad made with octopus. Instructions:

1. Wash the octopus and put it in a casserole covered with cold water. Add a bay leaf. Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours until tender.

2. Drain the water and leave the octopus to cool.

3. When cool enough to handle, open the bag and peel it off, then cut the meat into bite-size pieces and put them in a bowl. If you prefer, you can discard the tentacles.

4. Add some washed, finely-cut celery and a small jar of pickled vegetables (drained, but keep the vinegar).

5. Dress the salad with olive oil and chopped parsley, and a bit of the vegetable pickling juice to taste.

6. Serve salad cold as an antipasto, accompanied by a wonderful white wine from the Veneto.

Check out other seafood recipes, including:

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By Peg Kern

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