Ragoût de poulpe, purée de haricots blancs et huile aux herbes

I made this dish a while ago, then never got the chance to finish writing it. So here we are now, during the holiday season with a non Christmassy dish…It’s not quite the best recipe for the occasion but it is definitely delicious so we’ll make it festive.

Anytime I buy octopus, I think about Paul the famous octopus who predicted all the soccer games in the 2010 world cup. I have a weakness for octopus dishes but then when I buy one and see it staring at me, I am thinking, that’s the last time I will buy one. I have strong mixed feelings about it. Eventually, at some point, I will stop buying it. Maybe this one is Arthur, Paul’s relative.

Since I bought Arthur, I will make the best out of it. I have made many octopus dishes before, and this one with a tomato base is a classic Italian or Southern France dish. The white bean puree goes well with the tomato base, and it’s all enhanced by a herb oil. I loved it. Herbs are an essential part of my cooking style, I could not cook without them. They make any dish taste better, they give it more character.

It’s fairly easy to make herb oil. You need excellent olive oil, the most fragrant you can find. I used Paesano brand (from Sicily). I would use some unrefined and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, cold press. You can use any herbs you want. I used a mixture of parsley, chives, mint, mixed with garlic, jalapeno pepper. The oil needs to be infused for a while, a minimum of two hours. Then you can store it in a glass bottle and use it when needed.

Ingredients for 2-3

For the octopus

  • 1 whole large size octopus (about 2.5 lbs)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • Piment d’Espelette
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp tomato vinegar (optional)
  • chives for garnish

For the cannelini bean purée

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400 g cooked cannellini beans
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper

For the herb oil

  • 1 cup unfiltered cold press extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • one handful mixed fresh herbs (mint, parsley, basil, chives, etc…)


For the octopus

Cook octopus in boiling water until tender but not over cooked (about 30 minutes) or alternatively in a pressure cooker for 15-20 minutes. When cooked, drain and cut in medium size pieces (about3-4 inches).

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven. Add shallots and brown them. Add tomatoes, garlic, piment d’Espelette, salt and pepper. Let cook for a few minutes. Add wine, stir well and place in the oven with lid on for 20 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking until some liquid has been absorbed. Remove from oven and add tomato vinegar. Let cook for another minute an serve.

 For the cannellini bean purée

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onions and let them cook until translucent, then add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add beans and broth, salt and pepper. Let it cook to absorb the flavors for about 15 min. Then mix in a mixer to obtain a smooth puree. Add more broth if too thick.

For the herb oil

Mix all ingredients in a mixer until smooth. You could drain and press the mixture in a cheese cloth to obtain the oil (I like texture so I didn’t, and kept it mixed without pressing the oil)

Serve purée in bottom of plates, add octopus on top and herb oil all around. Sprinkle with chives.