It may still be winter in Sydney, but with two long warm sunny days - it is beginning to feel like spring is just around the corner. When the days start getting longer and warmer, I have an overwhelming urge to eat outside, accompanied by the fragrance of jasmine starting to bloom on the neighbour's fence. Seafood just has to be on the menu also, as a little reminder that soon enough the days will be hot and spent at the beach.
This dish is Greek lent / fasting classic (handy that Greek lent falls during springtime in Greece!!). It is also a family favourite all year round, a kind of Greek 'comfort food'. When cooking the octopus at step one, don't be tempted to add any extra liquid to the pot. The octopus will release all its lovely salty juices, becoming tender and mouth-watering. These juices will, in turn, make the most delicious sauce for the short pasta, along with fresh tomatoes and a little hint of chilli. Indeed, the octopus itself is not really the star of this dish - it is just there to flavour of the sauce for the pasta, so much so that this dish is probably best described as pasta in an octopus sauce, rather than 'braised octopus'. In terms of the pasta itself - don't go throwing any spaghetti in here. It is traditional to use a short pasta called 'koftaki' or 'kofto miso' in Greek - try the Helios, Melissa or Misko range which you can buy from grocers here in Australia.
Braised octopus with short pasta (χταπόδι μακαρονάδα)
1 large octopus (about 1.5 kilos), cleaned
½ cup extra-virgin Greek olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups peeled, seeded, chopped fresh Roma tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine (such as a Greek xinomavro)
500 g short pasta, such as kofto miso or koftaki.
Pinch of Aleppo pepper or dried chilli flakes
150-200 ml boiling water