This simple dish of pulpo and romesco sauce is an instant classic and a great example of beautiful Spanish flavours

pulpo and romesco

Serves 4 as a tapa or 2 as a starter with sauce to spare

2 dried ñora peppers

8 cloves of garlic

500g tomatoes

50g blanched almonds (or hazelnuts, if you prefer)

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

450g steamed octopus tentacles (available online from quality food suppliers, such as Brindisa)

Start by making the romesco sauce. Halve the peppers and remove the stems and seeds. Soak in boiling water for 30-60 minutes, until soft. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C. Add the tomatoes and garlic to a lined baking tray and roast for 30 minutes until everything is soft and the skin peels away easily from both the tomatoes and garlic. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins from the tomatoes and garlic.

Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, at the blanched almonds and fry, shaking the pan regularly, until nicely browned. Be careful not to burn them. 

In a food processor, add the drained peppers, garlic and almond and blitz to a crumbly paste. Don't over-process the mix, as you still want it to have texture. Next, add the tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar and blend until it is all broken down, but still has a slightly rough consistency. Season to taste. 

Pour the sauce into a small pan and keep warm over a low heat. 

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Rinse the octopus and then pat dry with kitchen towel. Once the pan is hot, lay the tentacles flat and the pan and use a pan lid to press them down into the base of the frying pan. Colour for 2 minutes before turning the tentacles over and colouring for another two minutes on the other side. 

Spread the sauce on a large plate and top with the octopus. Top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good sprinkle of sea salt.