Some dishes just look so much more attractive than others. I thought this one looked very nice. Take the tentacles from a braised octopus and brush it with olive oil and grill quickly over hot coals. Don’t over grill, just enough to get a bit of char on the surface of the tentacles… the contrast been drier charred skin and moist tender meat is what you are aiming for.
In a salad bowl, mix up some washed wild arugula greens, chopped tomatoes, some grilled sweet peppers if you have them, and top with the octopus, chopped roughly into bite-sized pieces. We had some radishes so I threw those in as well. Just made a simple vinaigrette with olive oil and red wine vinegar and sprinkled with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
This was a relatively easy salad to make, and just a bit more interesting than say using squid or shrimp. I am often asked where I get my inspiration for dishes I whip up and feature on this blog. The answer is lots of places… at restaurants, cookbooks, television shows, markets, etc. My fondness for grilled shellfish and peppery salad greens probably harks back to a meal a long, long time ago at a restaurant in Easthampton, Long Island. Billy Joel and his wife at the time, Christie Brinkley, were seated at the table next to us, and I think it was the first time I had ever had a grilled squid salad with arugula, tomatoes and a sharp vinaigrette (after seeing the Joel’s enjoying a plate of it. Not sure which was more thrilling, the salad or being within inches of Ms. Brinkley, who was very amiable and neighborly and utterly stunning… And in a really bizarre coincidence, some college roommates and I were sitting in the first few rows of a Billy Joel concert in Boston many months later, and after the concert started, a seat was plonked down beside me on the aisle and Ms. Brinkley sat down to watch the concert. Kilig. :)