How do you say no to a free place to stay in the center of Barcelona with a good friend?? You DON'T! My friend and her cousin did an apartment swap (Barcelona/NYC) and I was lucky enough to take part. It was my first time to Spain and I fell in love! I really enjoyed the cafe lifestyle in the city and their beautiful beaches a quick metro ride away from our place.
We stayed for about two weeks last August. Everyday I would start with an espresso at the café right nextdoor, and then we would head off to whatever area we decided to explore that day. We basically ate our way around the city sampling jamon, tapas and seafood any chance we got! We loved the jamon, cuttlefish and octopus especially. All of our meals were so flavorful, delicious and made just a few ingredients...we were in heaven!
One night we decided to stay in, cook and enjoy the beautiful terrace. My friend prepared our manchengo and chorizo appetizer while I cooked up some blistered shisito peppers, tomato and red onion salad, and a warm octopus salad with chickpeas, roasted asparagus, Spanish paprika and of course olive oil. It was a delicious evening all around.
In Spain you can find octopus everywhere, whether it be vacuum packed, frozen or often fresh at the markets. Here in NYC it's fairly common to find it fully cooked and frozen as well as fresh at fish markets. Any variety will work fine, just depends on what is available near you. I found some cooked octopus at an Asian grocery for this recipe.
WARM OCTOPUS SALAD WITH ASPARAGUS AND CHICKPEAS
1/2 pound cooked octopus, sliced in 1/2" rounds
1/2 can chickpeas, drained/rinsed
5-6 asparagus spears, bite sized pieces
paprika (preferably spanish paprika)
fresh cracked salt and pepper
Top the room temperature sliced octopus with paprika, to taste and set aside.
Toss the cut asparagus with 1 tbsp olive oil and either sauté at a medium heat for 1-2 minutes and add the chickpeas.
Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the octopus at the end only for 1 or 2 minutes, just to heat it slightly.
Remove from the heat and toss in a medium sized bowl with additional olive oil (about 2 tbsps).
Top with fresh cracked salt and pepper.