Grilled Octopus Salad

After a quick lunch at one of my favorite taco joints in Milwaukee, I decided I would shop around. I was really only looking for some tortillas for my kids, and an avocado for my wife, but I decided I would browse. Browsing typically gets me into trouble when I am at a grocery store. Go figure. This time around I checked into the seafood section and found an octopus. I have been thinking of octopus for some time now and wanted my family to experience it. I grew up trying octopus from time to time, along with conch and snails. My parents were good like that so I figured I would make attempts to let my kids experience that as well. The first thing that came to mind was a grilled octopus salad, and that is what I stuck with.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

This octopus salad is not only really easy to make, but it is super refreshing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs octopus, rinsed and cleaned
  • 2 cloves of garlic, rough chop
  • 1 serrano chili pepper, optional
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, 1 juiced
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with some salt, lemon, black peppercorn, and serrano chili. Place the octopus in the water and boil for 45 minutes.

Remove the octopus and place in a large boil and rinse it with cold water. Drain the water and then drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Let the octopus rest for about 30 minutes.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

Chop into large pieces and heat up your grill.

Once your grill is heated, place the octopus parts onto the grill, and cook for about 5 minutes, turning along the way. Your goal is to get some of that grill char onto the octopus.

After 5 minutes, remove the octopus from the grill and place into a large bowl. Add the remaining oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, onions, parsley and bell pepper. Give that a good toss and get ready to serve.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

I loved it. The texture of the octopus is spot on and the flavor from the great olive oil and lemon juice is super refreshing. Did my kids like it? Not sure but at least they tried! This grilled octopus salad would be really great during the summer months so I suspect I will return to that seafood aisle at my local Mexican grocery store and have them try it again. Have you tried octopus, and do you enjoy it?

Pan Bagnat Sandwich

Pan what? Pan bagnat. Say it with a French accent and follow along. If you have never heard of a pan bagnat, it is essentially a French sandwich, loaded with all kinds of crazy goodness, and one that you will want to keep in your sandwich arsenal. The pan bagnat takes some time to prepare, but it is worth every big (or little) bite. It is almost like a salad nicoise but in sandwich form, and trust me it is to die for.

Pan Bagnat Sandwich Recipe
Pan Bagnat Sandwich Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of red onion, sliced into thin rings

I am not sure if it takes more time to slice and dice and cook the eggs as it is to assemble this bad boy of a sandwich, but again it is worth every minute.

Start by making your dressing. To a small bowl add the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk or use a fork to create a nice thick dressing. Set aside and have everything ready to go.

Time to assemble. I don’t think order is very necessary so do as you please.

Pan Bagnat Ingredients
Pan Bagnat Ingredients

Start by laying down the tuna onto the bread. Crust to crust. Feel free to use the olive oil that it was packed in as well. Layer on the red onion, tomatoes, olives, eggs, and green bell peppers. Pour over the dressing, and fold.

Get some plastic wrap out and tear off a long enough piece to completely seal in all of this goodness. If you want, go right in and go for it, otherwise plastic wrap it really tight, and let all of that settle and rest for about 30 minutes.

When ready, remove the plastic wrap and dig in. This is one of those ‘guilty’ sandwiches that I had to make sure no one was around or looking because it is one I could not put down and one that I totally devoured. My wife and kids don’t like canned tuna (I have no idea why) so I knew I was all in, and trust me I was prepared.

This could be one of my top 10 favorite sandwiches and one that I am sure you will love. Hope you enjoy!

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

One of my wife’s favorite dishes is, well at least that I make, probably my garlic noodles that are infused sesame oil. This dish is also one that is one of my go to dishes when I go to a get together. Not only are those super easy to make, but everyone tends to love them. Let’s just say the bowl is always empty. I typically only make that dish when the mint in my backyard is in abundance, so typically late spring through early fall.

This dish however kind of stems from this recipe, but I wanted something a bit more hearty, and something that I knew everyone in my family would love, but with a couple of different twists. This is what I am coining as my loaded garlic noodle pasta salad.

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad
Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

This recipe packs in the flavor, texture, and is a great main course.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced 
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Korean fermented bean paste
  • generous pinch of kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1 bundle bean thread noodles, soaked in hot water until slightly tender
  • 1 bag of bun bo hue noodles, or a thick pasta like a bucatini, cooked before al dente
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked and chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups of spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 2 whole carrots, shredded
  • 1 small can of bamboo shoots
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup of frozen broccoli florets, slightly thawed
  • 1/2 cup of chow mein noodles
  • Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced (optional)
  • An appetite

Start by mixing all of your sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, and set it to the side.

Next, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the half of the oil, and bring to heat. Give the skillet a swirl, then add in the chicken breasts. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, the remove from the skillet and let them cool. Once cool, chop them up. If you see a little pink, don’t worry as we will finish in the next step.

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad
Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

Once your noodles are cooked al dente, make sure both of them are drained and ready to go. This is almost like a stir fry so everything is going to go a bit quickly.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet (make sure it is large enough to hold everything) on medium heat. Toss in the garlic, giving a good stir, and and cook for a couple of minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add in the chopped chicken, and half of the sauce. Swirl around and cook for about 3 minutes or so. Next toss in the thick noodles, give a good toss, and make sure the garlic and sauce coat the chicken. Cook for an additional few minutes.  Next add in the broccoli, and give that a good toss. Add the beaten eggs, and stir. This almost creates a creamy sauce that everyone loved.

To a large serving bowl, add the carrots, bamboo shoots, peanuts, sesame seeds, bean thread noodles, and spinach. Give that a good toss.

Add the remaining sauce to the skillet, and using tongs or your tossing skills, make sure everything is nicely incorporated. Cook for another minute.

Add the noodle mixture to the mixed up serving bowl, and use those tongs to incorporate everything together. This can take a minute or two.

Now you are ready to serve. I keep the chow mein noodles and sliced chilies on the side for those that want additional texture, and heat.

The end result is well, how do I put it? Let’s just say no one spoke for about 3 minutes as their faces were looking down and slurping noodles. Then everyone came up for air and began questioning everything in the salad, and stating how awesome it was. This serves a small army, probably 12 people, and is great for leftovers, warm, or cold. What’s not to love about that, right? Hope you enjoy!

Yum Woon Sen – Thai Noodle Salad

Don’t you just love hearing new words, like this one, yum woon sen? I do, and what I love even more is trying new things and making them later on, because there are those days where you might crave these types of flavors. Yum Woon Sen is nothing short of flavor. It’s essentially a bean thread salad loaded with fresh herbs, vegetables, and roasted peanuts. You can go the route and add things like minced pork or shrimp, but to me I think leaving those out are just perfectly fine.

If you are looking for a light salad that is packed with great flavors, and one that is a great side dish on a hot summer day, then give this one a shot.

Thai Yum Woon Sen

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bundles of bean thread noodles, soaked in luke warm water
  • 1 whole roma tomato, pulp removed, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 whole shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 Thai bird chilies, stems removed, thinly sliced (add more if you like it real spicy)
  • 2 whole dried shrimp, pounded
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fried garlic
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups of hot water

Start by making your dressing for the salad.

To a small bowl, add the juice of the two limes. Add in the fish sauce, and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Next, soak the noodles in warm water for about 10 minutes. These things can be a bit tricky so keep an eye on them. You still want them firm at this stage. After 10 minutes, strain the water, then add in the hot water. Stir the noodles, and let them cook for about 2-3 minutes, just until they soften, but not mushy. You don’t want mushy noodles. TRUST ME.

Once the noodles are softened, strain them and run cold water over of them. Strain again, gently squeezing any excess water from them, and place them into a large serving bowl.

Yum Woon Sen Ingredients

Now let’s make the salad.

Add in the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the dressing, and toss and turn to make sure everything is incorporated.

Now, pour in the dressing, and continue to lightly toss until everything looks great.

Dig in! This salad is so refreshing. It’s sour, it’s spicy, and it reminds me of som tam in a way, in a very good way. So if you are looking for a great salad that is really good on a hot summer day, this is the one! Hope you enjoy…