Seared Watermelon, Confit Octopus, Basil, and Agretti

Source: Franklin Liao, Fifth Floor

Recipe Type: | Seasons:

This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on July 25, 2013.

Serves 8


Confit Octopus
5 pounds Spanish octopus (4-6 ounces each)
2 liters olive oil
1 head garlic, cut in half
2 sprigs thyme

Seared Watermelon and Watermelon Espelette Sauce
1 seedless watermelon
Olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs savory
Ground Espelette pepper

1 pound agretti, large stems removed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch Thai basil, stems removed
1 bunch lemon basil, stems removed
1 bunch opal basil, stems removed


1.    Preheat the oven to 300ºF.

2.    Combine the octopus, olive oil, garlic, and thyme in a baking dish. Cover with parchment paper and aluminum foil. The octopus must be completely submerged in the olive oil. Bake until tender, about 2½ to 3 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool, then cut around the beak of each octopus to separate the tentacles. Discard the head, and save for plating.

3.    Cut the watermelon into 8 (2 by 4-inch) pieces. Pat the excess juice from the cut pieces with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt. Juice the rest of the watermelon and set the juice aside.

4.    Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sear the watermelon on the wide side until caramelized, being careful of flame-ups from the watermelon. Repeat on the other side. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of the watermelon juice. Add the garlic cloves and savory. Reduce the juice by about half, until it is the consistency of syrup. Season to taste with Espelette and olive oil.

5.    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, fill a bowl with ice and cover with cold water. Blanch the agretti until tender, about 2 minutes, then shock in the ice water. Strain the agretti and place it onto a clean towel to dry.

6.    Combine the mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Toss the agretti with the vinaigrette.
7.    To serve, place a piece of watermelon in the center of a plate. Add the agretti, then place octopus pieces on top. Finish with the different varieties of basil. Drizzle the Espelette sauce on top, as if dressing a salad.

Farmers Market Ingredients