Ensalada de Pulpo con tomates ahumados (Octopus Salad with smoked tomatoes)

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The variety of textures is pleasing on the tongue, and the variety of ingredients ensures that each bite will be slightly different from the one on either side. I think of this as a summer salad, but even though I’m making it in mid-September, summer is still in full swing in Los Angeles (save for the ever-shortening daylight hours).

INGREDIENTS

1.33 lbs / 600 g octopus, cooked and chopped
1 medium bunch fresh parsley, chopped (leaves only — well, mostly)
2 stalks celery, minced
1 orange, zested (zest only)
1 bottle (12 oz. / 340 g) marinated red peppers, diced
1/2 red onion, quartered, sliced thin, and macerated
2 tbsp / 20 g bottled capers, drained
2 dozen smoked and roasted cherry tomatoes, optional
vinaigrette dressing to taste
coarse or flaked sea salt to taste for finishing

DIRECTIONS

I bought my octopus already cooked, but if you don’t have a store that carries such, cooking octopus is pretty easy (cooking it well, however, is perhaps a little more difficult).

[I will be posting a technique for cleaning and cooking octopus in the Instant Pot® in the next week or 10 days. ]

Most of the work here is cleaning, chopping, and mixing. If you have a Microplane zester, it will make short work of the orange. You can substitute lime, lemon, or grapefruit zest if an orange isn’t handy, but I think orange suits it best.

Macerating the onion entails soaking it in red wine vinegar (or plain old white vinegar if you must) and a pinch of salt for about an hour. During that time, the purple/red of the onion will lighten considerably, and the onion itself will lose some (but not all) of its bite. After the hour is up, you can drain and rinse the onion before adding it to the salad. [You can dress the salad while the onion is macerating; it’s better when the dressing has had a little chance to mingle and be absorbed.]

As for the vinaigrette, I went super simple: 1 part red wine vinegar to 3 parts olive oil, and a teaspoon / 2.5 gm of ground black pepper. I didn’t want to get too fancy, because I didn’t want to overwhelm our cephalopod friend. That said, since there are so few ingredients in the dressing, I made sure to use a really good olive oil. If I’d had access to the appropriate Gegenbauer vinegar, I would have used that, but my remaining sour cherry vinegar wasn’t right for this recipe.

I happened to have roasted and smoked cherry tomatoes taking up space in the fridge, and they were a welcome addition, but by no means crucial. You could use regular cherry or grape tomatoes, or none at all.

Pop the whole lot in the chill chest and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. This will make an opening salad for 6-8, but the bride and I made it our main course, and polished off about 2/3 of it. We’ll finish up the rest tomorrow because, well, seafood.

And as for summer, I’m gonna hang on to it until reality intrudes, and I have to trade my rosé for a single malt, and my light-filled salads for soup.

 

 

 

 

Santa Fe Sunrise

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The Bride and I, a couple of decades ago, opted for Santa Fe as our honeymoon destination. Practically nothing outside Guantánamo screamed “honeymoon” less to me than Santa Fe — going to the desert in the middle of summer seemed unpalatable in the extreme — but it’s always been a good policy for me to pay attention to The Bride’s desires (as evidenced by the fact that, decades later, she’s still The Bride). As it turned out, the greater Santa Fe area is gorgeous, and our day runs out to several of the Northern Pueblos were both charming and informative. [And when I think of it, Houston in the summer makes Guantánamo seem like Ibiza by comparison, so please disregard my previous knock on Santa Fe.]

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The cuisine was something of an eye-opener as well, from Cindy’s Santa Fe Bite-Size Bakery’s addictive chocolate pepper cookies to the local sparkling wine, Gruet. We were served a complimentary glass — one of the many perks of being on one’s honeymoon — and we drank it with some hesitancy at first. New Mexican sparkling wine? Seriously? Turns out that the Gruet family, which had been making sparkling wine in France since 1952, was on vacation in New Mexico in 1983, and decided to put down roots and make both sparkling and still wines south of Albuquerque. Quite frequently, we serve it to our friends, introducing it to newbies with the phrase, “How about some refreshing New Mexican sparkling wine,” just so we can see the look of shock and horror in their eyes. It never gets old. Really.

But I digress.

One day, as I was idly wandering the Interwebs, I came across a blog titled The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook, which featured a dish called “Idaho Sunrise,” which was apparently originally adapted from a recipe featured in Marion Cunningham’s The Supper Book. Basically, it’s a twice-baked potato with an egg on top, stuffed with mashed potato and bacon and chives.

As usual, I decided to tinker with the recipe to suit my palate, and came up with something I like to call the “Santa Fe Sunrise.”

Santa Fe Sunrise

Santa Fe Sunrise

SANTA FE SUNRISE (makes 4)
Ingredients
4 previously baked potatoes
4 tbs butter or sour cream or butter-like substitute
1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce OR 1 can diced green chiles
4 oz. grated cheese (pepper jack, cheddar, whatever you have around)
salt, pepper
4 medium eggs
scallions, cheese, chopped tomato (or tomatillo) for garnish
dash hot sauce

Bake the potatoes the way you normally would. Then, slice off the top (see picture) and scoop out as much of the interior as you can while allowing the potato shell to hold its structural integrity (I usually leave about a 1/4-inch “wall” in the interior). Mash together the potato innards, sour cream/butter, adobo sauce OR diced green chiles, grated cheese, and salt/pepper to taste. Refill the potatoes with the mixture, leaving a well deep enough to allow for the egg. [One quick note: the adobo sauce is plenty hot even without the chipotle peppers, which you can reserve for another purpose, and one would be wise to mix in only a little of the sauce at a time, tasting along the way to ensure it doesn’t completely immolate your tongue… unless that’s what you like.] Crack an egg into the well, and place potato back into a preheated 375°F/190°C oven for 17-25 minutes or until eggs are just set (you can tell, because the whites are just barely white, maybe even a little translucent still). Garnish with scallions or chives, cheese , chopped tomato or tomatillo, and a dash of hot sauce, if desired. [I prefer Tapatío hot sauce myself, but Tabasco works just fine, if somewhat inauthentic to the Southwest vibe.]

The excellent aspect of this recipe is that it’s as easily adapted to vegans’ diets (you can sub either a vegan spread or almond milk or vegetable broth for the sour cream/butter and omit the cheese), as carnivores’ (fry up some bacon to a crispy crunch and crumble it into the potato stuffing).

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And no matter how you make it, the Santa Fe Sunrise goes great with a glass or two — or a bottle or two — of the Gruet Brut Rosé… just to keep the New Mexico theme intact, of course.