Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo)

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Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo)- The combination of flavors in this salad is beautifully balanced. The sweetness of the octopus, the earthiness of the potatoes, and the zing of the light lemon dressing create a harmonious blend that is refreshing and satisfying. A taste of my hometown! Enjoy.

You will also love- King Crab Salad, Seafood Salad Recipe, Stuffed Clams, and Stuffed Calamari.

Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo) in a large round serving platter. Side of lemon, parley on top, and bread as a side.
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Italian Octopus Salad with Potatoes

You will see this simple and fresh salad on every seafood menu in Sardegna (where I grew up)- we call it insalata di polpo e patate. Even as young children, we adored this octopus salad, which is still one of my favorite dishes. It is also one of our family’s favorites; we order it all the time and make it at home with fresh octopus.

Italian Octopus Salad is often served as an appetizer or a light main course. The vibrant colors and enticing aroma make it visually appealing, while the varied textures and flavors make each bite a delight. The salad is typically chilled for a while to allow the flavors to meld, resulting in a delightful taste experience.

Whether enjoyed as a starter or a light meal, or a side dish, this salad is a wonderful choice for seafood lovers or anyone looking to explore the delicious world of Italian cuisine.

It’s a great recipe to add to the Feast of the Seven Fishes if you celebrate that.

Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo) in a plate with a fork.

Simple Ingredients

This octopus salad recipe only uses a few ingredients to highlight the delightful octopus meat.

Ingredient shot.
  • Fresh Octopus (can use frozen octopus)
  • Baby potatoes
  • Garlic cloves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges for serving 
  • Red onion (optional)

See the recipe card for quantities.

What is Italian Octopus Salad Insala di Polopo?

Italian Octopus Salad, also known as Insalata di Polpo, is a delightful and refreshing dish that combines tender octopus with boiled potatoes and a medley of flavors. The salad showcases the delicate yet distinctive taste of octopus, which is cooked until tender and then cut into bite-sized pieces.

The octopus is the dish’s star, providing a unique seafood flavor that is mild and slightly sweet. The texture is tender and succulent, contrasting the other ingredients pleasantly. The baby potatoes, boiled until they are soft and creamy, add a hearty element to the salad and provide a satisfying bite.

You will love this traditional recipe that is common in Mediterranean cuisine.

Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo) in a plate with a fork. Side of lemon and bread.

How to Make Italian Octopus Salad Recipe (Insalata Di Polpo) Step-by-Step Photos

*(skip steps 1-2 if using frozen and precooked octopus)

1- Start by cleaning the octopus. Rinse it under cold water and remove the head and beak. You can ask your fishmonger to clean it for you if you prefer.

2- In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the octopus and cook for about 40-50 minutes or until it becomes tender. You can test the doneness by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the tentacle. It should easily slide in.

boiling potatoes

While the octopus is cooking, prepare the potatoes. Wash them thoroughly and place them in another pot. Cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15  minutes. Drain and let them cool. Then, cut them in half or quarters.

How to Make-Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with potatoes- salad ingredients.

Once the octopus is cooked, remove it from the pot and let it cool. Then, cut it into bite-sized pieces.

How to Make-Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with potatoes- mix all ingredients in a big glass mixing bowl.

Combine the octopus, cooked potatoes, minced garlic, onion (if using), and chopped parsley in a large bowl.

How to Make-Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with potatoes- mix all the ingredients together.

Add the lemon juice.

How to Make-Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with potatoes- make the olive oil vinaigrette.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a separate small bowl to make the dressing.

How to Make-Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with potatoes- mix all the ingredients together.

Pour the dressing over the octopus and potato mixture. Gently toss everything together until well combined and evenly coated with the dressing.

Let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.

Before serving, give the salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Drizzle with olive oil. You can garnish with additional parsley if desired. Serve with lemon wedges. 

This Italian Octopus Salad can be served as a refreshing appetizer or a light main course. Enjoy!

Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo) in a plate with a fork. Side of lemon and bread.

How do you cook octopus so it’s not tough?

To cook octopus so it’s not tough, follow these steps:

  1. Tenderize the octopus: To break down the tough fibers of the octopus, you can freeze it overnight and then thaw it, or you can gently pound it with a meat mallet. This helps to make the flesh more tender.
  2. Cook with gentle heat: When cooking the octopus, use gentle heat and avoid boiling it vigorously. A gentle simmer is ideal for cooking octopus. Maintain low to medium heat and cook it until it becomes tender. Cooking it too quickly or at high heat can cause the proteins to tighten, resulting in a rubbery texture.
  3. Add aromatics (optional): To enhance the flavor and tenderness of the octopus, add aromatics to the cooking liquid. This can include herbs like bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, garlic cloves, or whole peppercorns. These aromatics infuse the octopus with additional flavors while it cooks.
  4. Cook for the right amount of time: The cooking time for an octopus varies depending on its size and freshness. Generally, small to medium-sized octopuses take around 40-50 minutes to become tender. Larger ones might require longer cooking times. It’s important to test the doneness by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the tentacle. It should slide in easily when the octopus is cooked to perfection.
  5. Rest and cool down: Once the octopus is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it cool down. Allowing it to rest helps the fibers relax and retain moisture, resulting in a more tender texture. You can also place it in an ice bath for a few minutes to cool it down quickly and prevent overcooking.

By following these steps, you can cook octopus to achieve a tender texture that’s enjoyable to eat.

Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo) in a plate with a fork.

How to Store Italian Octopus Salad with Potatoes

To store Italian Octopus Salad, follow these guidelines:

Transfer the salad to an airtight container: Place the leftover salad in a clean container. Ensure the lid is sealed tightly to prevent air and moisture from entering.

Refrigerate promptly: Place the container in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Consume within 2 days: Octopus Salad is at its best when consumed within 2 days of preparation. The texture and flavors may change slightly after storage, so it’s recommended to enjoy it while it’s fresh.

Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo) in a large round serving platter. Side of lemon, parley on top, and bread as a side.

Top tips

Here are some top tips for making Italian Octopus Salad:

  • Tenderize the octopus: To ensure a tender and flavorful octopus, it’s essential to tenderize it before cooking. You can do this by either freezing the octopus overnight and then thawing it, or by gently pounding it with a meat mallet. This helps break down the tough fibers and results in a more tender texture.
  • Simmer gently: When cooking the octopus, it’s important to simmer it gently rather than boiling it vigorously. A gentle simmer helps prevent the octopus from becoming rubbery. Maintain low to medium heat and cook it until it becomes tender. The cooking time may vary depending on the size and freshness of the octopus, so it’s best to check for doneness by testing the thickest part of the tentacle with a fork.
  • Cool and cut with care: Once the octopus is cooked, let it cool before cutting it into pieces. This helps retain its moisture and prevents it from becoming dry. Use a sharp knife to cut the octopus into bite-sized chunks, ensuring even-sized pieces for a consistent texture throughout the salad.
  • Use waxy potatoes: Choose waxy potatoes, such as baby potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes, for the salad. These varieties hold their shape well after cooking and have a creamy texture. Be sure to cook the potatoes until they are tender but not mushy.
  • Marinate for optimal flavor: Allow the salad to marinate in the dressing for at least 1 hour, or even overnight, in the refrigerator. This allows the flavors to develop and meld together, resulting in a more flavorful and cohesive salad.
  • Season carefully: Taste the salad before serving and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remember that the octopus has a delicate flavor, so be mindful not to overpower it with too much salt or other seasonings. Add a pinch of salt and pepper at a time, tasting as you go until you achieve the desired balance of flavors.
  • Garnish and presentation: Just before serving, garnish the salad with additional chopped fresh parsley for a pop of color and freshness. Consider serving the salad chilled on a platter or individual plates for an appetizing presentation.

Follow these tips; you’ll be able to create a delicious and well-balanced Italian Octopus Salad that highlights the flavors and textures of the ingredients.

FAQ

Can I use frozen octopus for the salad?

Yes, you can use frozen octopus for the salad. Make sure to thaw it thoroughly before cooking and follow the instructions for tenderizing and cooking as mentioned in the recipe. You can also ask your fish monger what he has available.

Can I use canned or pre-cooked octopus for the salad?

Yes! You can find pre-cooked octopus and use it for the octopus salad recipe.

Can I substitute other seafood for octopus?

Certainly! If you’re not a fan of octopus or have difficulty sourcing it, you can substitute it with other seafood like cooked shrimp, calamari, or even cooked lobster or crab meat. Adjust the cooking times accordingly for the specific seafood you choose.

Can I make the salad in advance for a party or gathering?

Yes, the salad can be made in advance and refrigerated. Make a little extra dressing and keep it separate until you’re ready to serve, then toss the extra dressing with the salad right before serving.

Can I add other vegetables or ingredients to the salad?

Absolutely! While the classic recipe includes octopus, potatoes, onions, and parsley, you can certainly customize the salad to your liking. Some popular additions include cherry tomatoes, olives, capers, bell peppers, or even a touch of chili flakes for some heat. Just ensure the additional ingredients complement the flavors of the octopus and potatoes.

Looking for other recipes? Try these:

What to serve with Italian Octopus Salad Recipe (Insalata Di Polpo)

These are my favorite dishes to serve with Insalta di Polpo:

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make the recipe. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

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Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo) in a plate with a fork. Side of lemon and bread.

Italian Octopus Salad Recipe (Insalata Di Polpo)

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Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo)- The combination of flavors in this salad is beautifully balanced. The sweetness of the octopus, the earthiness of the potatoes, and the zing of the light lemon dressing create a harmonious blend that is refreshing and satisfying. A taste of my hometown! Enjoy.

  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 octopus (approximately 2 pounds/1 kg)
  • 1 pound (500g) baby potatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Instructions

*(skip steps 1-2 if using frozen and precooked octopus)

  1. Start by cleaning the octopus. Rinse it under cold water and remove the head and beak. You can ask your fishmonger to clean it for you if you prefer.
  2. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the octopus and cook for about 40-50 minutes or until it becomes tender. You can test the doneness by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the tentacle. It should easily slide in.
  3. While the octopus is cooking, prepare the potatoes. Wash them thoroughly and place them in another pot. Cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15  minutes. Drain and let them cool. Then, cut them in half or quarters.
  4. Once the octopus is cooked, remove it from the pot and let it cool. Then, cut it into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Combine the octopus, cooked potatoes, minced garlic, onion (if using), and chopped parsley in a large bowl.
  6. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a separate small bowl to make the dressing.
  7. Pour the dressing over the octopus and potato mixture. Gently toss everything together until well combined and evenly coated with the dressing.
  8. Let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  9. Before serving, give the salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Drizzle with olive oil. You can garnish with additional parsley if desired. Serve with lemon wedges. This Italian Octopus Salad can be served as a refreshing appetizer or a light main course. Enjoy!
  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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3 Comments

  1. Please don’t give this recipe 3 stars only because it is not what you grew up eating. This is an authentic recipe from Sardegna, where I was born and raised. So yes, all these ingredients are traditional. Thank you for your feedback, but it doesn’t reflect the quality of the recipe.