Freeze the octopus for at least 48 hours and then defrost in the fridge overnight – this helps tenderise the octopus.
Rinse well under cold water and pat dry. Place the octopus into a bowl with the lemon zest, juice, garlic and thyme and mix until well combined. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge to marinate for one hour.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onions and fry for five minutes, or until softened.
Stir in the marinated octopus and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and red wine. Bring to the boil and cook until the volume of wine has reduced by half.
Add the tomatoes and return to a simmer, then cook gently for 1-1½ hours, or until the octopus is very tender. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the parsley.
For the herb tabbouleh, drain the bulghur wheat and place into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spoon the tabbouleh onto a plate and serve alongside the octopus.