Fusilli with Octopus in Red Wine Sauce

January 25, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe was inspired by a traditional Greek dish, in which octopus is braised in tomato-red wine sauce with spices like rosemary and basil, and served with ditalini cooked in the sauce. I changed it up a little and took it in a more southern Italian direction...

Squid works here too, if you can't get octopus! - ArchaeoCook —celiaruthless

Test Kitchen Notes

This pasta dish has a very nice flavor and the sauce was rich and thick. After swimming for about an hour in the wine and tomatoes, the flavors of the pancetta and octopus tasted much like beef though, of course, the texture was very different. Adding the cherry tomatoes and parsley gave a freshness at the end that balanced the rich sauce. I didn’t add much salt for serving, but did add a small pinch of red pepper which gave some additional warmth. Served with crunchy bread and a salad, it made a lovely meal. - LLStone —LLStone

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds octopus, washed and patted dry
  • 1 pound dry pasta (preferably fusilli or gemelli)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ounce pancetta, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crushed canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cut the octopus tentacles in 1-inch segments. If you're using squid, cut the body into 1/2-inch rings and leave the tentacles whole.
  2. Heat the oil over medium flame in a large, deep skillet, add the garlic and onion, and sautee until the onion begins to turn translucent.
  3. Add the pancetta, stir for 30 seconds or so, then mix in the canned tomatoes, red wine, red pepper, and octopus. Raise the heat and bring things to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cook the sauce on low for 30 minutes. In the meantime, boil the pasta in salted water until it's still *very* al dente - not quite cooked. Drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water.
  5. After 30 minutes, the sauce should be nicely thickened. Add the fresh tomatoes and the pasta water and cook for 5 -10 minutes until the octopus is tender. Toss the par-cooked pasta in and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes or so until the pasta is nicely al dente and has absorbed some sauce. Salt and serve hot, sprinkled with parsley.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • dymnyno
  • celiaruthless

2 Reviews

dymnyno January 25, 2011
Is the octopus cooked before it is added ? Did you buy it cleaned and tenderized? I love octopus, but have only used it after cooking it tender.
celiaruthless January 25, 2011
You add the octopus raw: it takes about 40 minutes to cook octopus or squid tender...thanks for the question; I'll edit accordingly!