One pot traditional octopus stew with elbow macaroni pasta cooked in the sauce. An easy and low-fat recipe full of flavor!
If you want to learn how to cook seafood like a Greek, you must learn at least three or four basic recipes that are the protagonists in Greek family dinners. No, I’m not going to make you hang an octopus from a string outside your house like the sun-dried ones you see in carte postales advertising Greece and its taverns by the sea. These octopuses are destined for the grill. And grilling may be a favorite way to eat seafood here in Greece, but rarely is it done in someone’s home. Most people prefer to go out and order it from the menu of a restaurant or tavern. When in their kitchen, they prefer recipes which require less skill – because as simple as it may seem, grilling seafood the proper way is not something easy. So, the most popular seafood recipes are the ones made in a pot like this very simple but intensely aromatic cuttlefish stew or today’s Mediterranean octopus stew with elbow macaroni. Oh, and of course this easy baked octopus in foil. All these are simple recipes that guarantee tender meat and successful results with minimum effort and no special culinary skills. 🙂
Isn’t it interesting that if you compare a seafood stew with another stew with meat as the main ingredient, you will probably notice that the latter uses more ingredients such as herbs and spices? This is because most seafood has enough flavor and aroma and doesn’t need much to become tasty, maybe one or two bay leaves and a few kernels of allspice. Moreover, seafood has almost no fat, so if you go easy on the olive oil you‘ll have a low-fat and healthy dish, low in calories, suitable for people on a diet or people who like to watch their weight.
This octopus stew with elbow macaroni is, as I’ve told previously, the most popular Greek way to prepare octopus. And it’s one of my favorite dishes as well! I made it a few days ago and I just couldn’t wait to post it on the blog! The octopus gets very tender and fragrant, and the macaroni is covered with a thick starchy sauce full of flavor! Though it can be prepared with other kinds of pasta, like farfalle, orzo pasta, or penne, it is always made with elbow macaroni. Always! So, if you want to try the authentic Greek recipe, you should not choose any other kind of pasta. Either than that, the rest of the recipe is pretty much straight forward with all the other ingredients probably already in your pantry – except the octopus!
Choose good quality octopus. It’s the main ingredient and the one that will flavor the dish.
This food is served immediately after it’s done, with some of the sauce still not absorbed by the pasta. The longer you let it sit, the more sauce the macaroni will absorb until there is none left.
Octopus shrinks a lot during cooking because it contains a lot of water. So keep that in mind when cutting it into pieces.
- 2 1/2 pounds (1.1 Kg) octopus cut in chunks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup white or rose dry wine
- 1 can pureed tomatoes or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and blended
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
- A few drops Tabasco sauce, optional
- 5 cups hot water
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
Transfer the olive oil and the chopped onion to a large pot and place over medium/high heat.
When the onion is soft and translucent add the octopus, the bay leaves, the allspice, the cloves, the paprika, the pepper, the sugar, and the Tabasco (if using). Octopus will water out. Stir and cook until all of the water is evaporated and octopus starts to brown.
Add the tomato paste, stir for a few seconds and then add the wine. Wait until all of the alcohol is evaporated and add the tomato puree, cover the pot and simmer over low heat until the octopus is tender (time will depend on the octopus, usually it takes 30-50 minutes). Check from time to time to see if you need to add a splash of water.
When the octopus is tender, add 5 cups hot water and salt (you’ll have to taste the cooking liquid to determine how much salt you’ll need).
Bring to a boil and add the elbow macaroni. Reduce heat to low and cook stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes until pasta is done. There should be some liquids left. If not, add a bit of water.
Serve immediately. Eat!
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