Caterina gets the final say when it comes to the “you can post the recipe on our website” stage. There are a sneaky few recipes that I have added without her final approval, purely because I might have made something, enjoyed it, and not left any for Caterina to try, and I am just in an “I want to post something now” sort of mood. Very rarely, however, will I make something and give it to Caterina to taste for final approval, and have her reaction be “I can’t believe you needed me to approve that before you posted it!!!”, while she has her mouth full of what she is tasting. This octopus in red wine sauce was one of those rare occasions. Cat is as fastidious with manners as she is with the recipes we share, so when she started verbally expressing her satisfaction for the wine smothered eight legged creature creation while her mouth was still full of it, I knew the tick of approval was one of those big ticks.
This is a recipe that my mother has cooked for forever, and it has always been a family favourite. Mum traditionally made this during Lent where she would refrain from cooking meat, however these days it’s a regular in our household, all year round. The recipe contains three of our favourite ingredients: spaghetti, octopus and red wine. It’s a no brainer, right? The flavour combination is excellent. The red wine gives the sauce a beautiful intensity, and with the addition of onions, which are crucial to bringing the necessary sweetness to this dish, the flavour is beautifully balanced.
Make sure you are using a medium sized super fresh octopus for this recipe, with tentacles that are nice and plump. And although my mother would happily throw in some red wine that she has had sitting around in an open bottle for a while, don’t! Instead, use a red wine that you really enjoy drinking. Open the bottle to make the recipe, and have a glass, or two, while you are cooking. This is the sort of sauce that you can make hours ahead and serve when you are ready to. Hope you love this recipe as much as we do.
1kg medium sized octopus
3 dried bay leaves
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon vinegar
400g tin tomatoes
½ cup olive oil
2 white onions, diced
1¼ teaspoon salt
¼ tsp cracked pepper
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 glass red wine
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup passata
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup water
3 dried bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
- Wash and clean your octopus, removing the internal organs, ink sack, and as much of the outer skin as possible. Alternatively, you can have your fish monger do this for you.
- Place the octopus in a large pot, and fill the pot with water until the octopus is just covered. Add the 3 bay leaves and half teaspoon of peppercorns to the pot. Boil the octopus, uncovered, on a medium heat, until the octopus is tender. The amount of time this will take will vary, and will depend entirely on the octopus itself. Most of the times we cook this, it takes approximately 30 minutes, however it can take up to 60 minutes. Once cooked, add the vinegar to the pot and remove from heat. Cover and allow the octopus to sit in the pot for 10 minutes.
- Remove the octopus from the pot. If there is any black skin left on it, remove it by peeling it off with your fingers. Rinse the octopus with water. Chop the octopus – mum usually chops it in small mouth-size pieces, however we prefer chopping it with the long tentacles in tact for a little more drama on the plate. Set the chopped octopus aside.
- Place the tin tomatoes in a blender or nutri-bullet and blend until the consistency is smooth.
- Place the oil, onion, salt and pepper in a medium sized saucepan over low heat. Allow the onions to cook slowly, until they become transparent, approximately 10 minutes.
- Add the flour, and stir to combine.
- Add the wine to the pan, and stir to combine. Allow to simmer for one minute.
- Add the garlic and oregano to the pan, and cook for one minute.
- Add the tin tomatoes, passata, and tomato paste to the pan. Stir until well combined.
- Add water, 3 bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, soy sauce and sugar to the pan. Stir to combine.
- Cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for one hour.
- Add the cooked octopus, and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Serve the octopus in all its saucy glory over a plate of spaghetti.