- If you’re uncomfortable cleaning the octopus, ask your fishmonger to clean. To clean at home, old the octopus head under running water and remove the ink sac, stomach and eyes. Use a sharp knife to cut out the beak, which is located at the bottom of the head.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the octopi to the pan and rotate it periodically over a five-minute period, cooking it on all sides. The meat will change color and will begin to release its liquid. Cover the pan with a lid or tight-fitting aluminum foil, reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer for one hour or until the meat is soft. Cool to room temperature in the cooking liquid.
- Carefully separate the tentacles from the head. Cut the tentacles into three-inch pieces and cut the head in half.
- While the octopi are cooking, prepare the herb battuto.
- To serve, char the octopi over a hot grill until warmed. Spoon the passata di ceci (directions below) onto a plate, add the octopi and drizzle with the herb battuto (directions below).
- Garnish with the dried chili pepper as desired and a fresh squeeze of lemon.
For Passata di ceci:
- In a pot, combine the chickpeas, bay leaf, salt and enough water to cover the beans. Simmer on medium heat until the beans are tender.
- Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaf.
- In a blender, puree the beans with enough liquid to make a smooth puree. Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil and keep warm until ready to use.
For Herb Battuto:
- Add the herbs, garlic, shallots, olive oil and salt in a small pot and simmer on very low heat. Allow herb mixture to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes.