This Recipe has Legs: Strangozzi Pasta with Octopus

Strangozzi al Polipi

Recentlyour good friend Tanya, of Chica Andaluza fame, shared a recipe for Carpaccio of Octopus. (Do check out that recipe and, while you’re at it, take a few minutes to explore the rest of her fantastic blog.) I’d not thought about octopus in years and that post reminded me that my family once cooked octopus, polipo. I spoke to Zia about it and we decided to prepare it the next time I visited her. That visit took place last month and, with Monday having been Columbus Day, I thought octopus would make a fine way to commemorate his voyage across the Atlantic. After all, there were those that believed his ships would be sunk by a giant octopus long before they fell off the edge of the Earth.

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Strangozzi al Polipi

Strangozzi al Polipi

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It’s been quite some time since an octopus was given the place of honor at a Bartolini dinner — more than half a century, but who’s counting? We really have no reason for it not being served since then. The dish is delicious, reminiscent of calamari in umido, and it isn’t at all difficult to prepare. No matter. The dish was prepared by my family at one time and thereby has earned a page on this blog.

Back in the day, we would have prepared the octopus in umido, which in this case means stewed in a tomato sauce. Served in bowls with a chunk of good, crusty bread, the dish is delicious and, in some homes, is one of the dishes on the menu for the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Originally, I had planned to prepare today’s recipe in umido until reality intervened.

As of now, I know of only one place to buy octopus and that’s at my Italian market. Unfortunately, they only sell very small or very large octopi and each poses a problem for us. When you cook something in umido, it is best that the protein be in large pieces. This is not a soup but a stew, after all, and the pieces should reflect that. Well, the small octopi are so small that it would take 4 to equal a pound (450 g). When chopped, the

Octopus over Polenta

Octopus over Polenta

pieces are far too small for in umido presentation. In fact, Zia and I attempted to serve them over polenta and, though tasty, all but a few pieces were too small even for that. On the other end of the spectrum, the market sells frozen octopi that are 4 and 5 lbs. apiece. Though that would be wonderful to prepare for a Bartolini family dinner, an octopus that size is far too large for a meal for Zia and I. So, although we had to change the dish to suit the circumstances, the search is on now for an octopus weighing 1 pound. When I find one, I’ll either create a separate Polipo in Umido post or amend this one to include that recipe. Bear in mind, though, that the ingredients used in the in umido recipe are the same as those used here for this sauce. Differences, if there are any, will be in the amounts listed. I’ll only be sure of that once I find an octopus in the right size.

Since we couldn’t serve the octopus as we had originally intended, in umido, Zia and I served it over polenta. As I mentioned earlier, that dish didn’t quite work as well as we Bartolini Strangozzi Pastathought it would. Again the octopus pieces needed to be larger. Once home, I bought 3 more small octopi and decided to serve them over pasta. As luck would have it, a few weeks earlier my blogging friend, Lidia, had noticed something while shopping and sent her discovery to me. (Not only does she share the name of one of my favorite chefs, Lidia has a wonderful blog, Oh Lidia, and I hope you take time to have a look.) You can imagine my surprise when I opened the carton and found 3 pastas manufactured by a company called “Bartolini”. I can’t think of a better pasta to serve with this old family recipe than one that shares our family name. So, of the 3 sent, I chose to prepare strangozzi.

In an earlier post, I demonstrated how to make strozzapreti pasta and gave an account of how it got its name. (See It’s déjà vu all over again … ) Strozzapreti, you see, means priest choker and one legend states that this pasta was so delicious that priests choked when eating it for the first time. What does this have to do with strangozzi? Well, it is thought that the word strangozzi is derived from the Italian word for shoelaces, stringhe, yet this pasta has come to mean priest stranglers. Huh?  Stay with me. Centuries ago, in Umbria, the clergy was not looked upon kindly by the villagers. Legend says that they chased down the worst of the clergy and those that were caught were strangled with their shoelaces. These long pasta ribbons are thought to resemble those shoelaces. Death by shoelace immortalized in pasta. Ya gotta love it!

In reality, strangozzi are about the size of what we would call linguine, the only difference being in their thickness. Our linguine are cut from thin pasta sheets; strangozzi is cut from sheets twice as thick. The result is a hearty pasta that is perfect for heavier or meat-based sauces.

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Before beginning the recipe, the octopus must be cleaned and readied. The head is actually a hood and the contents of its interior need to be removed. It is easy enough to do and you can slice its side to make it even easier. Next, the eyes must be removed. Make a small slice on either side of each eye, creating a small wedge. Remove each wedge and the eye with it. Since these octopi were so small, I sliced the octopus just above both eyes and again below, creating a ring. I then cut the eyes off of the ring. One last thing to be removed is the beak. Turning the octopus upside-down, you’ll notice a small whole at the center of the 8 legs. With your fingers, carefully feel the beak and note its size. With a sharp knife, cut around the beak and remove. Now that it’s cleaned, cut the legs section in half, creating 2 parts with 4 legs apiece. Cut those pieces in half again, and then again. In the end, you will have separated all 8 legs. Do not chop them but leave them whole and proceed with the recipe.

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Click to see any/all photos enlarged.

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Strangozzi Pasta with Octopus Recipe

Ingredients

  • octopus (See Notes)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 large can, 28 oz (800 g), whole tomatoes – hand-torn
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram (2 tsp fresh)
  • 3 to 4 oz dry white wine
  • 1 lb  (450 g) cooked Strangozzi pasta — or whatever pasta you prefer — cooked al dente
  • reserved pasta water

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, bring to boil enough water to cover the octopus. Add the octopus and allow to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes after the pot returns to the boil. Small octopus should boil for 1 minute. Larger should be allowed to boil closer to 2 minutes. Remove the octopus and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and reserve. Once cooled, see Notes for chopping considerations.
  2. Over med-high heat, add olive oil in a medium sauce pan.
  3. Add red pepper flakes, onion, garlic, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper before sautéing until the onion is translucent and garlic fragrant — about 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wine, and marjoram, stir to combine. Bring to a boil before reducing to a soft simmer.
  5. After the sauce has thickened and darkened a bit — about 30 minutes — add the chopped octopus and continue to simmer.
  6. If using small octopi, it should be finished cooking in about 20 minutes. Taste a piece after 15 minutes to test for doneness and to check the seasoning. If necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water. (See Notes)
  7. Meanwhile, the pasta should have been cooked al dente and strained. Be sure to reserve some of the pasta water.
  8. In a large bowl or serving platter, combine the octopus sauce with the cooked pasta and mix. If the pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. Like all mildly flavored seafood pastas, grated cheese is not recommended for it will overpower the dish.

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Notes

The dish will determine the size of the pieces when chopping the octopus.

  • For pasta dishes, I would suggest chopping small octopi into pieces about 3/4 inches (2 cm). These pieces will shrink a little during cooking and will be easily managed no matter what pasta you choose.
  • For in umido, a larger octopus should be used and, when chopped, the pieces should be larger. Ultimately, the size will depend upon how comfortable you are dealing with the pieces while eating. Even so, I would suggest that all pieces be no less than an inch (2.5 cm) long. (Since this recipe was posted, I did find and prepare a 1 lb. octopus in umido. You can see that recipe by clicking HERE.)

No matter the preparation or the size of the pieces, do try to keep them all the same size. Doing so will ensure that all the octopus is evenly cooked.

Understandably, the larger the octopus, the longer it should simmer in the tomato sauce. A small octopus should take 15 to 20 minutes, as was stated in the recipe above. Larger octopi will take up to 30 minutes, maybe more. Be careful not to overcook lest the octopus become rubbery. If in doubt, taste a piece to see if it is cooked to your liking.

For reasons unknown to me, we’ve always discarded the water used to blanch the octopus. Even though the octopus is in it only briefly, the water does darken in color.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Strozzapreti with Pesto

Strozzapreti with Pesto

With all of this talk of strangling priests, it’s only logical that today’s look back would be to the strozzapreti post. Not only will you learn how to make the pasta by hand, you’ll also learn how a few of the common pastas got their names. All this can be yours just by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Damson Plum Jam Preview

Damson Plum Jam

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208 thoughts on “This Recipe has Legs: Strangozzi Pasta with Octopus

  1. I quite like eating octopus and your recipe looks really good! But I have not attempt cutting up an octopus and those jiggly wiggly things do scare me a little sometimes. I wish you will do a video of how you tackle it in the future, so I can use it as a reference! Until then, I got to get the butcher to do the chopping for me… 😉

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    • Thanks, Jasline. I can understand your hesitation when it comes to preparing an octopus. In Tanya’s post, she shared a video of a woman preparing Carpaccio of Octopus. The woman used a 2.5 lb octopus. Although it is much bigger thant those I prepared, it will be easier for you to see what she’s doing. Here is the link to that video. She begins to prepare the octopus at about the 1:00 mark. I hope this helps. 🙂

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      • Ciao John! 🙂 all looks and certainly is yummy, but like Jasline, I’m quite reluctant to octopus, even though I did try several times – here, in Taiwan and in Japan… no way! 🙂 So, may I have calamari instead, prego?!… 🙂 or shrimps, crab, crayfish, lobster?… molto grazie in advance, buonanotte e un
        abbraccio! 🙂 pensieri amichevoli, Mélanie

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        • Do not worry, Mélanie. We prepare calamari in very much the same way, in umido, and you will enjoy it very much. If need be, I’ll fix you some shrimp, too. I’ll make sure you are well-fed. 🙂

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  2. I am clapping my hands as I feel I have learned so much which I now have to try myself! I love octopus of ANY size, but usually have access to both the small ones and the ones you seek, ie about 1/2 Kg ++. Have mostly prepared them in the typically rustic Greek way with heaps of tomato, garlic, onions, herbs etc ~ would you believe often ‘stewing’ the larger one whole for about an hour . . . But to cut into such small pieces and have the one interesting recipe now and the umido one hopefully later, is such a gift: – how do the Italians do it 🙂 ! Yours is definitely more delicate and I have never had octopus with pasta so, thank you and let anothetr food adventure begin!!

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    • Thank you, Eha. You’re such a supporter! I am anxious to find an octopus at about a 1/2 kilo so that I can learn just how long it will take to cook it. Being it is chopped, I know it will not take as long as one cooked whole but I won’t be sure exactly how long until I find one. That’s why I stated to be sure and taste the octopus as you go along. I must say I was very pleased at how well the small octopus and pasta went together. That was a very good dinner. 🙂

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  3. “It’s been quite some time since an octopus was given the place of honor at a Bartolini dinner — more than half a century, but who’s counting?” oh John, thanks for the giggle!! Love love love octopus, we’re very lucky to live so close to the coast and have access to fresh seafood. My preference is baby octopus, so tender and yum. What a great recipe, thanks for sharing! x

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    • You’re welcome, Lisa, and thank you for your kind words. I envy you with your home near the coast. I’m 1000 miles (1600 km) away and although our seafood is flown in fresh daily, there’s nothing like getting it practically straight from the sea. Heck ! If we Bartolini lived on a coast, I bet octopus would have been given the place of honor at our table far more often than once in 50 years. 🙂

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  4. Another great family recipe, John! Your posts usually appear when I’m on my way to work and it’s always a joy to read them on the train. Here I know a shop that sells octopus by the individual leg — no cleaning required and easy to portion. I think you could reduce the blanching water and add it to the sauce, but you’d have to reduce it quite a bit so it may not be worth the gas or electricity to do so. I noticed that many recipes ‘plunge’ (dunk?) the octopus several times at the blanching stage rather than just letting it sit in the pot, but it’s not clear to me why. Anyway, this is definitely something I’ll try as I love octopus but haven’t simmered it in tomato sauce yet.

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    • Thanks, Stefan. You’re always so supportive. These posts are published after midnight here and I usually go to bed shortly thereafter. We really are a global community, with me going to bed as you commute to work. I briefly tried to find a reason for dumping the blanching water but didn’t find one. All the recipes I saw did dump it, though. The octopus does give off some sort of liquid while being blanched because the water changes to a brownish tint. Perhaps it’s bitter? If I find a larger octopus, I’ll give the liquid a taste and see what it’s like. Either way, I do want to make Polipi in Umido. Today’s recipe was good but it’s still not the one from back in the day.

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  5. Pingback: Strangozzi al Polipo - Strangozzi Pasta with Oc...

  6. John is really Nice to see you share food with Zia(bellissimo).the Polipo its Nice on tasty,but not easy to make because if you make a mistake its get hard( plastic tasty).but your lovely Zia with you did great work ,even to serve it with strozzapreti pasta!I really enjoy to see it,thank you for sharing with us!

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    • Thank you, Massi. Yes, Zia and I spend much time together cooking, We make gnocchi, ravioli, and sausage together, working side-by-side. When I find an octopus in the correct size, we will make polipo in umido, like it should be made. 🙂

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  7. Oh john everything looks good except the octopus, haha! That freaks me out, always has! I love the other flavors and the marjoram in the recipe. Your dishes always look so beautifully presented!

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    • Thanks, Brandi, and, to be honest, if an octopus is too large, it bothers me, too. I just don’t find quarter-sized “suckers” — or larger — to be appetizing and I can’t get past them. Small ones like these are no problem. 🙂

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    • That sounds wonderful, Roger. Seafood of any kind that fresh is a transcendent experience. I wish I had thought of octopus when I was in Greece. Next time, I’ll be sure to drink the ouzo after dinner.

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    • Thanks, Elaine. I have served polenta that way on a few occasions, though it isn’t traditional in my family. Back when Mom and Zia were girls, polenta was poured onto a “polenta board” in the middle of the dining table. The protein, usually a bit of meat in a sauce of some sort, was place on its center. Traditionally in Italy, a cord is used to cut the polenta into portions. Being raised in the Depression, no cord was used and The Girls had to eat their way through the polenta if they wanted a bit of the meat. Mom hated that, once she was old enough, she swore off polenta, a vow she kept until she was well into her 40’s, 🙂

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    • Thanks, MD. How cool was that package? If you do give our recipe try, I’d be very interested in hearing what you think of it. In the meantime, I’ve been given a few suggestions for finding the perfectly sized octopus. A recipe for polipo in umido may be here far sooner than I thought. 🙂

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  8. John you have put so much work into this recipe to make it perfect. So much so I want to try it. Octopus isn’t something I buy in England, I see it at the fishmongers and wonder what people do with it! They must sell quite a bit to keep stocking it. In Greece as a child we used to see the boats out at night with lamps and spears catching them. They were very close to the shore line which made me think that when I went swimming during the day they were there right underneath me and at any minute a tentacle could reach out!! Thank you for a lovely post.

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    • You’e so welcome, Maria. I don’t know how comfortable I would have been swimming in those waters, knowing that there were octopus around. Seeing them on a plate is one thing, knowing they’re underfoot is something entirely different. 🙂

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  9. Pingback: Strangozzi al Polipo – Strangozzi Pasta with Octopus | goodthingsfromitaly

  10. Hi John I love octopus but never prepare it at home because it all seems a little hard. Your recipe however looks very easy and tasty. Thanks so much John for the idea.

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    • You’re welcome, Glenda. If you like, check out the video I posted above. Though she’s dealing with a much larger octopus, it will give you a better idea of what’s involved. I must admit, cleaning the small ones is far less daunting. 🙂

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  11. I’ve made octopus chew toys for the dogs once or twice, but only unintentionally. I learned a lot from this post; will have to try this recipe sometime soon.

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    • I never would have thought of these as chew ties. Considering the disgusting things Max has eaten — and rolled in — on our beaches, giving him an octopus would be a definite step up. 🙂

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  12. Well well what a problem a octopus’ size can cause!! I have seen octopus once in our supermarket but they were definitely LOOKING at me with such sad eyes that I got scared and didn’t dare buy them… that pasta must be delicious anyway (just don’t make me prepare it for myself) 😀

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  13. Great tutorial on how to clean octopus. Love how you are able to make it sound easy and doable.
    I have images of priests gagging while trying to tear away the shoelace pasta from around their necks, how hilarious! Will be carrying a smile on my face the whole day with these images.
    I remember my father making octopus dishes but I never did, one of these days.

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    • Thank you, Norma. I must admit, until I cleaned the first one, I thought it much more difficult than it actually was. Perhaps I’ll feel differently once I find a larger one but these “baby” octopi weren’t at all difficult to prepare. Yes, that legend of the poor priests being chased and strangled is really something, isn’t it? To funny.

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  14. On my first trip to the Florida Keys I went fishing and caught an octopus and it scared the crap out of me as it climbed up my line. The man next to me said, “Can I have it? My mother is Italian and it will make her day if I can bring it to the campsite.”

    I handed my pole over. 🙂

    I love your posts and learn so much every time I visit.

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    • Thanks, Maureen. I don’t want you to have the wrong impression. These octopi, no matter the size, are all dead. I would have responded to a live one very much like you did. I saw a few too many sea creature horror films as a boy. 🙂

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  15. Ah, I love octopus! I have never known how to prepare it, though – this post is a great resource for first timers. Very helpful. I also love the little history and cultural lessons you weave into your posts. Such an enjoyable read. As always, thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  16. We all love octopus as you can imagine. It’s so similar to calamari and you know both of the kids are fiends when it comes to that! They’ve had octopus before too and loved it. I’ve never bought a whole octopus though. I have much the same fear of that as I do a whole fish. I’m not sure I could handle the cutting out of eyes. Still the end result looks and sounds delicious. I like the choice of pasta and how fun to have one with the Bartolini name! On a side note, I thought of you this a.m. I was walking in a haze through the kitchen early this a.m. and stopped dead in my tracks. There in mid-air a few inches from my face was a spider! I was frozen. No one else was awake. Fortunately the little cat came to my aid. He hopped right up and took care of it. Thank goodness or I would have had to wake someone up! 😉 I had a little chuckle at myself and knew you would appreciate that as well. Have a great day John!

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    • For the uninitiated, cleaning an octopus can be difficult. If you buy the small ones, Kristy, you won’t even see the eye as eyes. They’ll be closed and appear like 2 little bumps. If you do as I suggested, cutting above and below them, you’ll create a ring and just toss it. Easy-peasy.
      Had that been me in the kitchen, you would have heard me howl, followed by the spray of Raid. Lucy, Max, and I would have had to wear gas masks for the night but there would be one less spider to worry about. 🙂

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  17. Oh, that is quite the story on the origins of ‘strangozzi’ John. And you’re quite right, you gotta love it! I love the way how much of Italian folklore involves religion in one way or another and how the people are always on opposite sides. 🙂 Thank you for the shout-out. As I mentioned in my note to you, I came across various Bartolini products and it screamed your name to me – I just had to get some over to you. Beautiful use of the pasta, serving it the way you did. I haven’t had polipo in umido in I don’t know how long. I’m going to forward this to my brother and demand that he make it for me! I cannot wait for your Damson Plum Jam recipe… they are everywhere in our farmers’ markets and I was planning on making just that. Grazie mille John!

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    • Prego, Lidia! Isn’t that bit of folklore something? One of my favorite things to do, when it Italy, is to order a pasta that’s new to me and ask the waiter the legend behind its name. Often, the explanation will keep us chuckling until the secondi are served.
      I really cannot thank you enough for the pastas. It’s been quite the topic in my family. I must admit that seeing all of the Damson plums at the farmers market lured me into buying some. I do like this jam and cannot wait to cook with it. I think it would work very well as a stuffing for a pork roast. 🙂

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  18. Yet another wonderful recipe, John: as I mentioned in a comment to an earlier post, I love octopus and your pasta recipe sounds just delicious! Thank you for sharing it! 🙂

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  19. I was thinking of you as we watched Anthony Bourdain in Parts Unknown Sicily the other night because of your reference last week to this octopus post (I think it was last week or am I making this up?) He was supposedly on an octopus fishing trip, but another boat off camera kept throwing frozen octopi down for him to “find” and he was pretty upset about the fake scene. They beat the now thawed octopus against a rock to make it tender, something I hadn’t seen before fresh or frozen! And now today you have made it so simple to understand how to clean one that I might even venture to cook it some time. The eyes would bother me a bit, though! And the strozzapreti with octopus…a perfect strangling combo. 🙂 Really, this dish looks so light and delicately flavored, I can imagine how delicious it is and I love the story behind the pasta. Must go and check out Lidia’s blog, and thanks for sharing!

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    • Thank you, Betsy, and don’t think twice about confusing the 2 pastas. I can’t tell you how many times I wrote the wrong name when replying to comments here, let alone when I wrote the post. Before publishing, I actually did a search to make sure I caught all of the mix-ups. I cannot recall where but I heard/read that it was common practice for fisherman to bang large freshly caught octopi against rocks to tenderize them. I, also, read that freezing large ones will accomplish the same thing.
      I wouldn’t let the eyes keep you from preparing this dish, Betsy. In the end, I bought a total of 6 small octopi and none of their eyes were visible. They looked like small bumps and by cutting them as I suggested — slicing above and below them to create a ring — you needn’t bother with them at all. Just toss the ring away, no problemo. If that’s still too much for you, have your fish monger do it for you. There’s more than one way to clean an octopus! 🙂

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  20. Love the title !! I think I’ve told you before that, while living in Malta, one of my very favorite dishes was a pasta dish served with octopus in a creamy sauce. Of course the name of the dish had “polipo” in it…. but I can’t remember it exactly. As always, John, a delightful post!! I wish you lived nearer ’cause I’d invite myself over to dinner for this dish !!

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  21. Really fun recipe today! I’ve never cooked octopus. I know it’s supposed to be wonderful, but the couple of times I’ve had it, it’s been overcooked and unpleasantly rubbery. Admittedly the places I had it weren’t the best in the world. I do know a couple of places where I can buy it, but I never noticed the size – I’ll have to check that out. Great post – thanks so much.

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    • Even more than calamari, John, octopus can go from raw to rubber, seemingly in seconds. That’s why I said to taste it as it simmers. It’s been ages since I last ordered it in a restaurant. It’s just too easy to foul up. I’ll go with calamari instead and am rarely disappointed. Thanks, John, for leaving such a great comment.

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    • Thank you, Ronit. I’ve never been served octopus tapas style but I have enjoyed it served cold, in a salad. Once I get the in umido recipe written, maybe I should try to make the salad. 🙂

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      • I guess years of catering made me look at check dish for its cocktail party potential. But at home I’m definitely going with the warm pasta version!
        Looking forward for your umido recipe. Anything that is served with a crusty bread on the side is already a favorite! 🙂

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  22. Hi John–Nice elucidation on octopus, and pasta. Good octopus pics too. I’m sympathetic about the size problem. We have a pair of 6 – 8 lb monsters in our freezer now, that I’ll take out for some fortunate dinner party guests, but might be a bit too large for consumption in a single meal. We tend to cook large octopi, use half in a sauce or stew and put the rest to work in a salad which can be refrigerated–and actually tastes better after an overnight of chilling. I did discover that our local Star Market (!!!) sells the 1-lb ones in their freezer section. They’re about the size of frozen softball, and after having cooked a few of them they seem to work just fine. Great post. Ken

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    • Thanks, Ken. I really hadn’t thought about using part of a large one in this recipe. One thing my fishmonger mentioned was that unlike so many other things, octopus could be thawed and frozen again without detrimental side effects. He said it was because they lack blood. I also read somewhere that freezing large octopi helps to tenderize the meat. Buying a large one, cutting it up, and re-freezing it may be just the thing. Who knew? 🙂

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      • I forgot to mention my favorite reason for buying large ones–octopus shrinks so much in the course of cooking that the nice thing about buying big ones is that if you still end up with lovely cork-sized pieces of tentacle AFTER it has cooked. Nice tip about refreezing. I never heard that. Ken

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  23. Hi! And many compliments for your recipes. You’re very creative chef. I love fish and I often I prrepare some dish with it, but until now I’ve never cooked octopus with pasta. So,you give me a suggestion! Thanks and bye 4 now.

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  24. Hi, John. I aways look forward to your posts – such great anecdotes to go with fabulous food. I had no idea that octopus was so versatile. It sound like you and Zia had a gourmet (octopus!) meal. It’s probably good that you went for the smaller urchin and not the four to five-pounder, even if you wished the pieces were a tad bigger (haha). I would happily experience “death by shoelace” eating this pasta dish – YUM. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Thanks, Shanna, for the wonderful compliments. One thing is certain. When I visit Zia, we eat very well. If I see something at the market that we used to prepare back in the day, I’ll buy it and surprise her. When we’re not cooking, we’re making things for her freezer. Ravioli and sausage patties usually but we also make our fair share of pasta that we dry for her to use later, after I’m gone. We have a great time during these visits and I look forward to them. 🙂

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      • What a great relationship. I love that you surprise her with nostalgic foods… food memory is incredibly powerful! Freezing foods and drying pasta together is lovely – you spend time together and also make sure she is well-nourished when you’re not there. I bet she thinks fondly of your visits when she eats a little Ravioli or sausage patty. 🙂

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  25. You just have to love a culture that weaves such wonderful stories around its food, as well as being so dedicated to its quality 🙂 I love the end results with the polenta and pasta you’ve accomplished but there’s no way I’d manhandle an octopus dead or alive. Octopus is just divine to eat when it’s tender and the right size but if it still resembles it’s former self, is tough or not cleaned properly, a nightmare. I’ve experienced all those things good and bad. For such a long time I was scared to eat octopus but when I saw how others relished it I had to try, and am happy I did.

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    • Thanks, EllaDee. I know what you mean about octopus. I had no problem dealing with these small ones and the ones I’m looking far are still reasonable. Yet, I do have a problem with the really large ones. Once, years ago in New York, I ordered an octopus salad and was half-way through it when I got a good look at it. I was completely put off and the waiter couldn’t remove it fast enough. I’ve since learned to keep them small and haven’t had a problem since. And you’re right. These legends behind the pasta names are, for me, as appealing as the pastas themselves. 🙂

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  26. I was very surprised that you didn’t make the pasta from scratch John, it looks fantastic! I bet the texture was amazing too, what a treat to have Lidia send you such a thoughtful gift. I love the story, it’s these tales that make life interesting for sure.
    I adore Polipo and have it regularly at my favourite Italian restaurant; I always thought you had to cook it long and slow, but your method looks and sounds quite doable and enormously delicious. Plums are abundant in Bloor West Village right now, we have so many Europeans and I’m sure they are all making a plum cake or dumplings or preserves. I should do the same since I have time now.

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    • Thank you so much, Eva. For once, I was more than happy to use manufactured pasta. How could I not be? Bartolini pasta? What a treat and how nice of Lidia to think of us.
      It is good that you’ve found a restaurant that knows how to prepare polipo correctly. Many do not or at least don’t prepare it consistently. I think those that struggle don’t make it “to order.” It’s a big mistake to try to par cook it and then finish it off later. It goes from tender to rubber too quickly for that.
      I know what you mean about the plums. I’d never tried Damson plums but saw so many at the market, that I had to do something with them. My first plan was to make cobblers but Fate intervened and I ended up with jam. You’ll learn all about it next week. 😉

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  27. Octopus is a hard one for me. My son adores it, and would love it if I cooked it. But somehow, I yet to bring myself to hold one and cook it, let alone clean and cut it. But I would love to try this recipe. It’s so awesome of Lidia to think of you and send you the pasta packets. The wonderful world of bloggers…you gotta love it. And I loved your little story about the priests…it’s gross and yet fascinating…now I will forever think of strangulating priests when I eat shoestring pasta, hahaha!

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    • Thanks, Minnie. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and legend. If you buy your octopus fresh from a fishmonger, he’ll gladly clean it for your and separate the legs. That will make things so much easier — and less daunting — for you. And you’ll have a very happy son. 🙂
      And wasn’t it nice of Lidia to think of us like that? The wonderful world of bloggers is right!

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  28. Wow John – this is a great recipe! When I’m in England I tell myself to enjoy what I have here and not yearn for what I can’t have from Spain…but I’m yearning right now 😦 What a beautiful way to prepare the polipo and I love the “how to ” photos – bet that was a palaver to do in between preparing, handwashing, photography 😉 Thanks for the lovely mention and I’m off to look at Lidia’s blog – what incredible pasta too. Strangozzi is new to me but I think it would be pretty easy to prepare by hand. I left my pasta machine in Spain but a few days after getting here I found a brand new one in a charity (thrift) shop for £5 – less than $10 so I won’t have to survive on just dried pasta for the next few months 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Tanya. You understand this so well. Because of the lighting, I can rarely take photos in my kitchen. (When I do, you know it.) Taking photos in another room without a sink is a nightmare when the subject is seafood or raw chicken. Max has learned to find a neutral spot and watch me like one watches a foot race.
      What a deal on your new pasta machine! Buy 2! You’re right. Strangozzi would be very easy to prepare. Just remember it is thicker than you would normally roll out. Although I normally roll my pasta thinner, this was a nice change and I’ll certainly do it again. Have a great week and watch out for those cracks! 🙂

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  29. Perfect timing, John! Last week, Stefano asked me if I was feeling like cooking some octopus for him. Well, you are aware of my “fish aversion” 😉 … plus I find the simple idea challenging. And then, all of the sudden, your post appeared! 🙂
    The recipe sounds great and I think I can handle the execution … mmmh not sure about the cleaning of the octopus, though. 🙂 Now, I just have to find out where I can buy octopus locally and – maybe – they will even clean it for me! 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Francesca. I’m glad this post is helpful for you. I am sure that if you can find fresh octopus, the fishmonger will clean them for you. Just make sure he doesn’t chop it up. Let him separate the hood and the legs but no more. Once you blanch them, you decide how large to chop it. The process is really quite simple and it surprised me once I started. It is harder to clean and skin calamari, to be honest. Good luck locating them and I’m here if you’ve any questions. 🙂

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    • I know, Ceiia. Wasn’t that something? What a wonderful surprise and it came at the perfect time. I think larger pieces of octopus will make the polenta even better. The tentacles of these “babies” were so small that I only got one or two nice sized pieces from each leg and even then, they were on the small size. We prefer larger pieces when served this way. Let me find a better sized one and I’ll show you. 🙂

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  30. I know where you might find one just the right size John – try the aquarium! I have to admit that dish looks very tasty and if you made it for me I’d not argue, but I’m one of those who couldn’t get past touching it, never mind getting the eyeballs out. There’s just some things I can’t get past but you’re my hero.

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    • Good one, Diane. You may find it surprising but I agree with you. I’ve not tried it but I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t deal with the 5 pounders for the very reason you’ve stated. The eyes of these small ones, however, were all closed and looked like small bumps on the surface. There was nothing the slightest bit objectionable about them. And all I can say is “Whew!” 🙂

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  31. wonderful post, John! I follow chica andaluza, she is also amazing! Maybe I should celebrate a seafood themed christmas this year, as much as I like turkeys and pork shoulder, I have to admit, that seafood, and specially octopus is my favorite food to eat!

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    • Thanks, Paul. Yes, I think the world of Tanya and enjoy her blog. The Italian side of her family is very reminiscent of my own. So many of her memories will trigger my own and the reverse is also true. It’s remarkable.
      When thinking about your Christmas dinner, why not borrow a page from the Italians? We serve seafood on Christmas Eve,leaving us free to serve turkey or roasts for Christmas Dinner? Here’s a link to a post that includes a story behind the Feast of the 7 Fishes. Maybe it will inspire you. I’m sure you have plenty of your own fish recipes but feel free to look around if you’d like to try something new. 🙂

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      • That was an awesome post! You got me thinking now, and I would like to try something new for this christmas dinner. In venezuela we make hallacas, which is similar to mexican tamales. I would like to combine ceviche with this classic preparation. I think it could totally work but only one way to find out. Here’s a link to my hallacas recipes http://thatothercookingblog.com/2013/01/21/hallacas-en-papillote-plantain-leaf-and-caper-brine-infused-masa-dough/

        I love the idea of making a squid salad too, which I haven’t made but have had and totally love.

        I still have to come up with 5 other dishes now! hahah, I’ll figure something out! or maybe I will just combine some fish recipes with some traditional recipes. Will see.

        Thanks John! I always appreciate your input, seriously.

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        • Those hallacas sounds tasty, Paul, though I’ve never seen plantain leaves in any of the markets I frequent. I bet using ceviche as a filling would be fantastic!
          Don’t tell anyone but once, a number of years ago, I had to work Christmas Eve and stopped at a grocery on my way home. Realizing I only had 5 Fishes, I punted, using sushi and pickled herring for numbers 6 & 7. Although they lent an international flair to my dinner, I can’t think of 2 less traditional dishes. 🙂

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          • hahahha, I might end up doing the same 🙂 Btw, plantain leaves.. they’re not common, I agree, and they are certainly hard to find. Easier here in Los Angeles, most mexican stores have them. Their flavor is so unique, if you ever find them, get them, make stock out of them and use them to flavor your favorite meat stew. I believe they taste like christmas, hahahhaah. Ask anyone form Venezuela. They are used in mexican cuisine and southeast asian cuisine as well. It’s good stuff.

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    • Due in part to Italy’s history of being many separate, self-governing regions, these two names are used throughout Italy but in association with very different pastas. On the plus side, when in Italy, you may not be expecting the dish your served but it will be delicious, nonetheless. 🙂

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  32. Okay, it’s really just a squid but with mostly legs … there’s no need to get all squeamish about it!Seriously, John, only you can make octopuses (or is it octopi?) sound tempting. Will bring your blog to my Italian friends’ attention again. Not to complain this time, just a gentle reminder that there’s a lot more to Italian cuisine than what they’ve shared with me. They haven’t fed me octopuses (pi)! 🙂

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    • Thanks but you really are too much! I’ve read your blog and many of your recipes could easily have come from one of our kitchens. Your Italian friends are probably waiting for you to make it for them. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    • Thanks, Michelle. If you’re interested and can find fresh octopus, I bet your fishmonger would clean and separate the head and legs for you. After that, this dish is a snap to make. C’mon, Michelle. Give it a try! 🙂

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  33. Having been brought up by the sea and actually swum with octupi in the water and seen the occasional big one washed up on the beach I am very gently going to decline. But i am sure it is a tasty dish on polenta or pasta. However I am looking forward to the damson plum jam. Mad Dog makes that Damson liquer of some kind? That Zia, she is such a go getter in the kitchen! Have a lovely evening.. c

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    • Thank you, Celi, and I knew that today’s recipe wouldn’t be for everyone. There are so many parts of an octopus that could give someone the willies. 🙂
      I need to check out MD’s archives for that liqueur. I don’t know how much longer the plums will be available and I wouldn’t mind making another batch of liqueur. Zia is such a sport. I bring octopus and she gladly prepares it. I have to slow her down, though. She works quickly and it’s hard to get the photos taken. 🙂

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  34. I had to fast forward…really really fast, past the photos of the pulpo (Mexican word); but I like the story of the Strangozzi, and I love my pasta to be thick, like linguini, so I’ll have to look for Strangozzi at the market. We have a lovely Italian market in a nearby town, Podesto’s, that I haven’t been to in awhile…soon.

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    • Knowing that this post wouldn’t be for everyone, I do appreciate you sticking around, Angeline. When I go to the Italian market, my favorite area — beside the cheese department and pastries — is the pasta aisle. There are so many types and I enjoy finding new ones. I hope you do find Strangozzi. I really did enjoy them.

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  35. I must say that I love the stories behind the shapes of pasta and love sharing them with my kids when cooking a pasta dinner. The thought of mobs shoestring lynching a priest is bizarre.. but a great story nonetheless.. and I would love to try a pasta that is made that thick. I’m a big fan of calamari and, although I have cooked whole fish, I’ve got to admit the video made me a bit squeemish..I liked it better just reading about it as you described it:) There is no question that I would eat it.. simmered in a lovely sauce, but I might have to trade a baked dessert for a plate of calamari in umido. I can’t wait to see that jam, now that is something I’d be up for trying!xx

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    • Thank you, Barb. I, too, enjoy those legends and love to share them to dinner guests when I serve a particular pasta. I didn’t put that video in the post because I knew it would be too much for some. In reality, if you buy small octopi, it’s much less daunting. The eyes are mere bumps and the beak is small, too. I’m not so sure I could deal with a 5 lb giant — nor do I want to find out. 🙂
      Damson jam was new to me, though I like it. I hope you will, too. Have a great week, Barb.

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  36. That is so nice of Lydia! Can’t wait to check out her blog! And I have seen octopus frozen, in little pieces, in the Mexican markets. It is a varietal seafood mixture they use for ceviches and such. Other than that the only place I see octopus is at a restaurant and it is so good! Now I’ll be on the lookout!

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    • Thanks, Abbe, and yes, that Lidia is something else. What a nice thing to do! I’ve never seen octopus in those seafood mixes but wish I did. What a great risotto that would make! Good that you have a restaurant that knows how to cook octopus. Some don’t and it’s not a dish that can be so-so. Either it is very good or terribly bad. 🙂

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  37. How lovely to receive a parcel from a fellow blogger, especially a pasta package!
    Italians have such a way with food naming (my favourites are Puttanesca and Suppli al Telefono). Death by shoelace absolutely takes the cake though! This looks delicious John. The sauce sounds lovely and rich. I’m a chicken though, and buy my octopus pre-cleaned. It’s the eye-gauging that freaks me out.

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    • You’re so right, Saskia. It was incredibly nice of Lidia to think of us and surprise me with a package. The names of pastas have always interested me. I get a real kick out so some of the, like Strangozzi. 🙂 To be honest, I’m not so sure I could clean a large octopus. The eyes on these “baby” octopus are mere bumps and easily handled. That’s not the case from what I’ve seen of the larger ones. They’d freak me out, too, I’m afraid.
      Thank you, Saskia. I’m glad you like this post.

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  38. I love your plum jam jar. I also love strangozzi pasta as being thicker, the sauce sticks to it really well. Too bad about those priests! It’s so annoying when you know the exact ingredient you need and then you go out searching for it and fail to do so so have to make compromises. I think your pasta looks like it’s turned out extremely well however I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to hear if you’ve yet sourced a 1lb polpopi xx

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    • Thanks, Charlie. To be honest, I didn’t realize that the size I bought was a problem until I was in Michigan and we started to prepare them. When we make stew, we use large chunks of meat. Similarly, when something is cooked in umido, the protein should be in large chunks. Once I started to clean these “baby” octopi, I saw the problem. Lucky for me, a blogging buddy sent me the names of a few places that should carry the illusive 1 lb octopus. 🙂

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  39. I’ve eaten very little octopus in my life, mostly on a sushi plate which means, I’ve never tasted it cooked. Raw, it’s a little tough, Is it tender once it’s cooked? Well, the pasta dish does look good and how exciting that it’s served over Bartolini pasta! 🙂 Can’t wait for the Damson plum jam!!!

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    • If octopus is cooked correctly, MJ, it is very tender. The problem is that it can go from tender to rubber very quickly. That’s why I mentioned to keep tasting it once it is about 5 minutes from the estimated cooking time. It’s very much like calamari in that regard. And, yes, it was really thoughtful of Lidia to send the pasta to me. How incredibly nice of her! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Anne. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about this recipe and am surprised at how well-received it has been. The dish has at least 4 legs too many for some and that’s understandable. Even so, many, like you, are ready to dig in. It’s been great reading the responses, yours among them. “My favorites are the tentacles,” has to be the best one yet! 🙂

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    • Thank you and you’re so right. If cooked correctly, octopus is delicious. If it isn’t though, it’s like eating rubber and not at all palatable. Is there a special preparation that the Filipino serve? I’d love to find out! 🙂

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  40. I think you really had to work for this recipe, John. I found it so interesting that you can’t just find an octopus the size you’d like, but need to adjust the recipes to accommodate what you found available. I don’t very often see octopus at all! And then figuring out how to clean it properly, well, that impresses me, too! I will eat octopus someone else prepares, but I’m a little too put off by the appearance, to handle it as adeptly as you seemed to do! I keep thinking of all the diversity your family enjoyed in food tastes and the memories they’ve created. By comparison I was raised with a very bland palate! I really do admire the family recipes you’ve not only maintained, but tweaked and improved upon. Zia must really love experiencing them again with you. This was fascinating, John. And how much fun to have some Bartolini Pasta you didn’t first have to prepare! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Debra. You’re always so kind when you comment. There’s good news on the octopus front! A blogging buddy sent me a list of stores in greater Chicagoland that have octopi in assorted sizes. I’ll get this recipe done right yet!
      Frankly, I found preparing the raw octopus to be relatively easy. I was expecting much worse. Then, too, I think I’d feel much differently if I was working with 5 lb octopi. I’ve watched videos and they’re a bit much for me to deal with.
      Back in the day, I thought nothing unusual about our diet, thinking everyone ate as we did. Now I know our diet was really quite special — well, at least when compared with our American friends. And Mom and Zia were fantastic cooks. My generation was incredibly fortunate. Today, Zia and I are having a great time re-visiting these old family favorites — and we’re eating very well in the process. 🙂
      Wasn’t that incredibly thoughtful of Lidia to send “Bartolini” pasta my way? What a treat!

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  41. Bueno Sera John! You are a brave man John cutting up that live octopus. You might now be known as the octopus wrangler! I was cleaning a few squid the other day and even that gave me the shivers but octopus have so much more tenticles. When we lived in Japan, it was normal to go down to the market and just buy some tenticles for sushi nut never the whole octopus. Such and interesting story about the shoestring noodles. I would hate to be noted as one of the incompetent clergy back in the days. I love your sauce and I bet your tenticles were perfectly tender in the sauce. Take Care, BAM

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    • Buona notte, BAM. Hang on a minute! I am many things but “squid wrangler” isn’t one of them. These octopi were dead. I could never prepare them if live. No way! 🙂 I’ve had octopus sushi and enjoyed it. Served like this, it is very tender — so long as it isn’t over-cooked. Simmer it too hard or too long, and you’ll be eating rubber.
      I’m always entertained when I find a new pasta and learn the legend behind it. Italian folklore fascinates me. Have a great day, BAM. I’m heading to bed now. 🙂

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  42. This looks really tasty. So similar to our Octopus and Short Macaroni dish here in Greece. A classic dish for Clean Monday, the first day of Lent. We use slightly different spices though, like cloves and cinnamon, which go really well with the octopus. A good way to cook octopus is in the slow cooker! It gets it really tender (like all meats). Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

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    • Thank you, Eleni. When you mentioned the Greek preparation, I immediately thought of cinnamon and you reminded me of cloves. Both give Greek sauces such great flavor. Thank you, too, for the tip about using the slow-cooker. I am definitely going to give that a try. It sounds like a great way to prepare octopus.

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  43. John, your detailed descriptions of cutting out the eyes and the beak, the photos progression of the sizes of the cuts of octopi, the preparation and the consideration of number of diners…I read every word.
    Wuss that I am, I am wishing for that jar of plum jam as I head downstairs to make toast.

    An excellent post and how cool to receive some Bartiolini pasta in the mail? Very cool.

    BTW I would definitely taste your beautifully prepared dish but I don’t think I could handle those tentacles with the little suction cups to prepare it, let alone cut out the eyes or the beak. Have to run to school. Will share your post with my sister. She’ll love it!

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    • Not to worry, Ruth. I could never prepare a large octopus. If the eyes didn’t weird me out, those really large suckers surely would. The ones I worked with here are fine. In fact, the eyes are small, lids closed, and look like 2 small bumps. And you saw how small the suckers were in the photos. No problemo!
      I hope your Sister enjoys the post. A blogging friend in this area sent m the names of a few stores that stock 1 lb octopi. If I get one, I may re-visit octopus sometime in the future.
      Thanks, Ruth, for your unwavering support and encouragement. It really does mean a lot.

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    • Thank you, Silva. I hope to find an octopus about 1/2 kilo in size. Then I can prepare in in umido like my family once did. We never served octopus with polenta. This was the first time and only because the octopus was so small. Next time will be better. 🙂

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  44. Pingback: This Recipe has Legs: Strangozzi Pasta with Oct...

    • Thanks. A couple commenters have said that they can buy octopus already cut up. That would make things so much easier! I’ve yet to see that but, if and when I do, I’ll be sure to mention it in that week’s post. In the meantime, you’re going to enjoy making the Strozzopreti and your boys will get into it, too. The thing about homemade pasta is that you don’t want perfection. That comes in a box. Homemade has charm and the satisfaction of knowing you made it. 🙂

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  45. Firstly, I do hope you get “name” royalties from the Bartolini pasta… it’s only right you know.
    Then there is the matter of this taste bud tantalising dish – even though I haven’t eaten octopus in many years, I have the fondest memories of it.
    Now, how the heck do I get a one pound octopus or two to you… I have seen them here quite regularly actually.
    Have a fantastic day John.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • Oh, yes, Mandy. I can just hear the CEO of the Bartolini Pasta Co. “It’s another one of those Bartolini trying to get royalties!” 🙂
      Thanks for the compliments. A blogging friend has sent me the names of stores in this area that sell octopi in a variety of sizes. I’ll find one yet! And don’t you worry. I’ll have plenty of them here when you visit.
      I hope you have a great weekend, Mandy!

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  46. The octopus and pasta combo looks and sounds totally delicious John. I love octopus, rarely cook with it as my partner is veggie, but no matter. I think my favourite octopus meal has to be at a backstreet café in Athens – fresh octopus cooked over a charcoal grill outside the café. Cheap, fresh and delicious – and we didn’t need to speak Greek to point at the octupus cooking on the grill and grab a table and chairs 🙂 Happy days.

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    • Thank you, Claire. You’re not the first to mention dining on octopus while in Greece. I was there and never even tried it. I’ve a feeling that I missed something really special. Well, then again, it’s not like I ate badly while I was there. 😉

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  47. Oh what a coincidence!!! I was just about to email you a picture of the Bartolini pasta I just bought! I thought John would love to see it and I see someone beat me to it but at least I can tell you that we get Bartolini pasta here too. All the way in Jordan 🙂

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    • That is a coincidence, Sawsan. Imagine that! I’m touched that you, too, would see that pasta and think to let me know of your discovery. Thank you for being so thoughtful.

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  48. Oh boy, I honestly don’t think I would ever prepare octopus – just can’t bring myself to do it. However, I really liked learning more about strangozzi and the fascinating story of the priest stranglers.

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    • I realized that octopus wouldn’t be for everyone, especially once the prep work was revealed. Thankfully, these were small for I do believe I wouldn’t be so willing if I worked with one of its much larger cousins — and I hope to never find out for sure. 🙂

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  49. the octopus is here–yay! Looks amazing and wish I was at your table to enjoy. Thinking I’m not up to this task, though have put it on my List 🙂 Thanks for sharing. And yum, will be back for that jam.

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    • Thanks, Liz, though prepping octopus may not be for everyone, you may be able to find it cleaned and even chopped at some fishmongers. And if not? Just have a nice dish of strangozzi with your favorite meat sauce. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Judy. Forget the octopus and look for the pasta. I think you’ll enjoy strangozzi with your favorite meat sauce and imagine the fun you’ll have relating the story to your dinner guests. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Sally. Others before you have mentioned seeing octopus, already cleaned and even chopped, in fish markets. Asian markets were mentioned in one comment. I tell you, I’ll be looking out for it. The bigger the octopus, the less enjoyable the cleaning process, for me anyway. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much. If prepared properly, it is very tasty. Unfortunately, all too often it is served over-cooked and then it is chewy, like rubber. When you try it, I hope it has been prepared correctly. you will really enjoy it, I’m sure. 🙂

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  50. Oh dear John, as delicious as this looks and as informative as your post is, I don’t know if I can bring myself to eat octopus. I’m just not that adventurous and you know I don’t care much for seafood as it is. My children are so much better at being adventurous foodies, they enjoy calamari and octopus. Maybe I can take baby steps….I really have to get over this fear of certain foods:) You make it look so good so I am felling confident. We have a decent Asian market very close to my house, they carry octopus and stuff. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂
    Have a great weekend John!

    Nazneen

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    • Thanks, Nazneen, but you needn’t feel that you should give octopus a try. We all have foods that we don’t especially care for. That’s just the way it is. Octopus, with its 8 legs, is a bit daunting to clean and prepare, especially if you’re not a seafood lover. I’ve an idea. Take your kids to a fine Italian restaurant, let one of them order the octopus, and you can sample it. Far better to try it that way than to torture yourself trying to prepare something you just don’t care for. 🙂

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  51. John, in this realm you are a master of storytelling! Whether or not I “can go where you go” in the kitchen, whether or not I have the courage (or time, or access to the ingredients) to tackle what you quite honestly make so do-able, I ALWAYS love reading the story that goes with the dish!! (Imagine how horrible those priests must have been to have the people believing death by shoelaces the most fitting punishment!) great great post!

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    • Thank you so much, Spree. I must admit I’m a bit surprised how many said they would enjoy octopus. I didn’t think it would be nearly as popular. I do enjoy learning the folklore behind these pastas. It’s always fascinated me. In this case, I doubt that throngs chased and strangled priests. I do wonder, though, if there is some kernel of truth to the legend. I pity the priest if there is … 🙂

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  52. Oh wow, octopus, nice! I have actually only first tried octopus this year (3 months ago to be precise) and I was surprised by how much I liked it. I have never cooked with it before, but I definitely think it’s on my to-do list now!

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    • It’s the “Ew!” factor associated with eating octopus that keeps many from trying it. That’s a shame because, if prepared well, octopus really is quite tasty. Congrats for taking a chance. If you do try cooking octopus, start small and work your way up to the big ones. The little ones aren’t nearly as daunting to clean as their bigger cousins. 🙂

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  53. Believe it or not, this smimiliar pasta made some trauma for me….
    i had my 50 USD multiple courses dinner, one of the main is this kind of octopus pasta,
    the sauce is terrible hot and spicy (arrabiata style) and the octopus is chewy as hell,
    i guess they did’t slowcooking and direrctly quicky strir fry like a squid….
    i think i’m gonna love your version even better!!!

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    • Sorry that you had such a bad dish, Dedy. They obviously did not know how to prepare octopus. I, to, have had it poorly prepared and did not like it at all. I hpe the next time you have octopus, it is much better and you enjoy it!

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    • Thanks, Kathleen. This is one of those dishes that’s just not for everyone. If you do give it a try one day, I hope it’s well-prepared. Rubbery octopus will definitely turn you against the dish.

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  54. I’m relatively certain I will never be cutting the beak out of an octopus. It takes some doing to get my family to eat fish! If I have octopus, it will be in a restaurant & hopefully they will use your recipe. As for those clergy suffering an ill-timed demise by shoelace, you’d think they would have switched to loafers! Lame, I know, but consider it the groaner of the day 🙂

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    • Thanks, Mar. If you do order it in a restaurant, I hope they prepare it well. Most do but it only takes one badly cooked octopus to turn one against it for life. No one wants to chew on rubber. As for the groaner, it was well-timed and gave me a good chuckle. Yes, I need to get to bed. 🙂

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  55. Lovely post as usual John. I love the serendipity of the family name on the pasta. I follow Lidia and really enjoy her posting too. Given the recent history over here in Ireland, we could have done with strangling a few priests here too. Excellent storytelling and recipe presentation. I love reading your posts.
    Best,
    Conor

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    • Thanks, Conor, for such a nice compliment. Love Lidia’s blog, as well, and how nice of her to think of us and to send the pasta. What a surprise! I really enjoy the folklore behind the recipes and, when in Italy, will ask the waiter how a pasta got its name when it is one I’ve not heard of. It makes for a great anecdote when I serve the pasta back home. 🙂

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  56. I’ve never cooked octopus. My husband likes eating it but I am perpetually put off by the tentacles and suction caps. Just looking at your close-ups with the beak and eyes made me squirmish…. ugh!!!! 😦 I know that many other meats are just as bad in different ways but the sliminess is a bit of a struggle. Anyway, whew (got that off my chest!). Your recipe looks amazing. Thanks for the thorough instructions and photographs. If I can summon the courage to tackle fresh octopi, this recipe will be first on my list!

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    • Thanks, Laura,for sticking it out even though it’s not necessarily your cup of tea. If you so summon the courage, be sure to get a small octopus to start. The eyes are closed and look like bumps; the beak is quite small, and the suctions on the tentacles are very small, too. I should have included a ruler in the octopus photos so that you could see just how small it was. I think it only weighed about 115 g, if that. It was small and far less “offensive.” To be honest, I don’t know if I could handle an octopus that was 2 or 3 kilos. 🙂

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  57. I do enjoy octopus indeed! Such a delicious sounding recipe thanks. We can get fantastic fresh octopus at the local markets, and some of them are ginormous, or we can get teensy tiny little frozen ones from Asia. We’re spoilt for choice 🙂

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    • I must admit I’m a tad jealous. I bet I can find a wider selection, too. I’ve really not been looking that long and, from I’ve learned, I can find almost anything I want here if I’m willing to search for it. Right now, I can find little and really large. I just need to find the in-between sizes. The hunt continues …

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    • Thank you so much. I rarely order octopus unless I’m certain the restaurant knows how to prepare it. It’s wonderful when well-prepared but just plain awful when over-cooked. ANd, yes, that was very kind of Lidia to think of us and send us her surprise.

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    • Welcome! Shrimp would work fine. I know, I’ve done it myself. Just be careful not to overcook them and you’ll have a great meal. Thanks for the visit and taking the time to comment.

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  58. Oh John one of my favourite pastas is the “strangled priest”. I am not sure if I have had octopus with pasta but it is refreshing to see it braised another way ( without tomato). looking forward to your jam

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    • Thanks, Tania. Yeah, strangozzi is a favorite around here, too. Although we’ve served octopus with pasta before, it’s always been more of a frutti di mare dish with several types of seafood. Normally, we serve octopus stewed in tomatoes. I found a properly sized one and Zia and I will be cooking it again when I visit next month. 🙂

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  59. This is such a great “primer” on dealing with octopus as an ingredient! Not sure how easy it is to find here, but my husband has commented on how he’d like to give it a try working with it as an ingredient at home, given how we have enjoyed octopus dishes dining out. I double-checked Monterey’s Seafood Watch to verify its sustainability status (I am a sustainable ingredient geek, I admit) and was happy to see most sources are acceptable — this is what Monterey noted: “The common octopus is a popular sushi item where it is sold under the Japanese name tako. Due to heavy fishing pressure (current and past), habitat damage caused by the fishing gear, and a lack of fishery management, we recommend consumers “Avoid” octopus from Mauritania, Morocco and Vietnam. Common octopus from Spain is a “Good Alternative.””

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    • Thanks, Kat. I’ve since found a 1 lb octopus and may revisit the recipe once Zia and I prepare it. I bet you can find octopus in your area. You might recall that my Uncle’s family immigrated there, on the Canadian side of the border. There were many Italians living there. If you can find an Italian market, with a fish department, you may be able to find octopus if not fresh, frozen.
      I’m a big fan of Seafood Watch and refer to it before I buy seafood at the market or in a restaurant. In fact, next week’s recipe was inspired by a recipe from their site, as you’ll soon find out. 🙂

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  60. Frankly speaking, John, I’ve never cooked or eaten octopus, but thank God you decided to give them a place of honor at a Bartolini dinner after more than half a century, now I believe the inferior brethren did actually look at you and motion its arms…it probably knew it was high time you showed us some octopus preparing skills and i did enjoy reading about the shoelace-priest story too. Thanks so much for sharing I wish I could get an opportunity to eat some octopus over polenta or pasta. I am sure once prepared it tastes very nice. Have a safe trip and best wishes to Max

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    • I brought that superior octopus with me and Zia and I enjoyed it very much. I’m so glad I “rediscovered” that recipe. I need to update this post with the adjusted ingredient amounts. If, for no other reason, than I’ll forget them if I don’t write them down. 🙂

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  61. Pingback: What I Did During My Fall Vacation | from the Bartolini kitchens

  62. Pingback: It’s Columbus Day! | from the Bartolini kitchens

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