This classic Greek dish, htapodi makaronatha, is another favourite in my home, and fortunately I able able to get fresh baby octopus to use in this dish. I generally have my local fish supplier prepare the octopus for me. If you cannot get canned cherry tomatoes, fresh ones are fine. It is very simple to prepare and the only really time element is the 1-1¼ you need to braise the octopus in the oven. I love to put this in the middle of the table with lots of fresh crusty bread to serve and a bottle or two of Naoussa Boutari 2009 – I can guarantee a wonderful meal to be had by all.
Red wine octopus with pasta
70 ml olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 kg baby octopus, cleaned, heads reserved, tentacles halved
1/2 teaspoon each sweet paprika and ground chilli
200 ml dry red wine
400g canned cherry tomatoes
3 thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves to serve
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cinnamon quill
350g dried ditali pasta
Preheat oven to 180C. Heat oil in a large casserole over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and stir occasionally until very tender (8-10 minutes). Add octopus tentacles and heads, paprika and chilli and stir occasionally until octopus changes colour (2-3 minutes). Add wine, simmer until reduced by half (2-3 minutes), add tomato, thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon quill and 125ml hot water, then bring to the simmer. Cover with a lid and braise in oven until tender (1-1¼ hours).
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until half-cooked (4-5 minutes), drain and reserve 150ml pasta water. Stir pasta and reserved pasta water through octopus, season to taste and serve hot, scattered with extra thyme.