Chargrilled baby octopus with olives and hand-pounded pesto

Neil Perry
Chargrilled baby octopus with olives and hand-pounded pesto.
Chargrilled baby octopus with olives and hand-pounded pesto. Photo: William Meppem

The octopus can be replaced with other seafood, and roast chicken also makes a handy substitute.


1/2 small clove garlic

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 bunch basil, leaves only

20g raw pine nuts

1 tbsp finely grated parmesan

40ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra

juice of 1/4 lemon

1/3 cup Ligurian olives, pitted

12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

500g baby octopus

100g mixed salad leaves, washed


Pound the garlic and 1/2 tsp salt to a paste with a mortar and pestle. Add the basil and continue to pound until the basil breaks down and a thick paste is formed. Add the pine nuts and work them in well so the paste has a creamy texture.

Add the parmesan, 40ml olive oil and lemon juice. Season with more salt, if required. Add pepper. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and add the olives and cherry tomatoes.

Chargrill the octopus over a high heat for 5 minutes or until it gets good colour and char marks. You want that nice barbecue flavour. Cut the octopus into bite-size pieces. Add it to the pesto mix and combine well.

To serve, place a small pile of salad leaves on each plate with some octopus mix on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.


  • Make the effort to hand-pound the pesto - you will never again use a blender. The pesto is great with pasta or other salads.
  • Don't toast the pine nuts; they will overpower the pesto.