Joy Of Spanish Cooking

Grilled Pulpo (octopus) with Mashed Butternut Squash


Well, the holidays have finally come to a close. Some of you may have ended their holiday season on January 1st.  In Spain, as in some other countries, we celebrate King’s Day (celebrating the arrival of the three wise men) on January 6th. The day before, there are lively parades in towns throughout Spain celebrating the 3 Kings. The night is especially appreciated by the children, as good kids anticipate presents brought by the kings during the night while they are sleeping. Kids that may have been a little bad might get a little coal with their presents.

As with any festivity in Spain, we celebrate with food. (Of course!) After the parade, my family gets together and we’ll celebrate with a late evening meal of charcuterie and other delicious treats. The next day, King’s Day, kids awake to presents under the tree. Except that these presents were brought by the 3 Kings, not Santa Claus like here in the US. Later on in the day, the family gets together for another feast at grandma’s house. (This year, there were 28 of us!)

Holidays in Spain are long, but I love the traditions and time spent with family.

Today I made something that is a blend of cultures. Something more common in Spain, and something a little more typical here in the US. This is a seasonal dish, and one that light and tasty. Grilled Pulpo with Butternut Squash

Pulpo is the Spanish word for octopus. It is very common in Spain, and is eaten throughout the year. It can be difficult to find, but even I can normally find it in my local grocery store in my small Maryland town. Sometimes I can find it fresh, and other times frozen. Usually, it is imported from Spain, adding to the authenticity of this dish! I paired it with butternut squash, which is a common and seasonal vegetable, adding a sweet and colorful component to a savory main ingredient. I find the flavors complement each other and also add a good textural comparison.

A lot of you might be a little wary of an ingredient such as octopus, and would probably steer clear of it because you don’t know how to prepare it. But, it’s super easy and I’ll show you how to do it! If you like seafood as I do, you’ll love octopus.

Ingredients: (For 2-3 people)

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 small octopi (1 lb each- this was what was available in my market)
  • 2-3 T brown sugar (30g)
  • 3 T unsalted butter  (30g)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • paprika (optional)

For the Octopus:

Add the octopus to boiling water and and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove them from the heat and let them rest in the still-hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.


You can buy pre-boiled octopus. If you do, I would highly recommend boiling them again for about 20 minutes. Boiling the octopus will ensure it is more tender, and less chewy.

Cut the heads off from the octopi, make sure to remove the hard beak, and then cut the legs. We are only going to continue with the legs.


Cook the legs on a hot grill (or pan) for about 5 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil. Browning them a little will help bring out the flavors. Remove from the heat and season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper, and sprinkle with paprika.


For the Mashed Butternut Squash:

Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut into large chunks, then boil  for about 15 minutes, until tender. Mash the squash until smooth, as you would for mashed potatoes. Add 2-3 table spoons of brown sugar (vary to the sweetness you want), unsalted butter, and salt and pepper to taste.


Simple, seasonal, and delicious. Bon profit!

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Grilled Pulpo (octopus) with Mashed Butternut Squash

by Ivette time to read: 3 min
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