This is a traditional dish that is served during Greek lent and often consumed on the first day of lent known as Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday). We eat that along with the lagana (Greek flatbread), taramosalata and olives.
The Greek Easter fast goes on for about 40 days and Greeks fasted for over 180 days. This fast does not allow animal products and is pretty much vegan with the exception of some seafood. Now you may wonder why certain creatures of the sea are allowed. Well, many believe because these creatures do not have blood. In fact, it has to do more that their blood is blue rather than red, due to the hemocyanin.
This meal though is great even if you are not fasting or not Greek, it combines lean protein with starch along with the tomato resulting in a complete and nutritious meal. Now the traditional recipe requires about 2 pounds octopus per 1 pound of pasta, but as octopus shrinks the octopus is actually there just to taste and not as the main course. Pair it with a seasonal salad and you are set. This dish is tasty and although it may seem strange to some, here in Greece most kids love eating it.
The directions are the same whether you use a fresh or frozen octopus, just make sure it is completely defrosted.
Note: If you have a whole octopus you will need to remove the “tooth” as they call it. Click here for this one minute video that shows how to clean it (do not follow the other instructions about boiling it).
Greek Stewed Octopus in Tomato Sauce and Pasta
- 1 fresh or frozen octopus about 2 pounds (or octopus pieces)
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 15 ounce chopped tomatoes (can be canned)
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 pound macaroni
- Place the octopus in a large pot and heat, add a bit of water, the octopus itself will release water. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. The octopus will shrink and curl.
- Remove octopus from pot. Save the octopus water. Cut into small pieces about ¾ of an inch. Set aside.
- In another pot sauté the onion until translucent, add the octopus pieces and continue sautéing for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste and about 1 1/2 cup water (it can be the octopus water depending on the strength of flavor you like or a mixture) and the wine. Cover and let it simmer for about 40 minutes.
- Add the pasta and let it cook for about 12 minutes until pasta is done.