Pasta with Baby Octopus

This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Babbo Cookbook, from one of my favorite chefs, Mario Batali. He used bavette, a thin, ribbon-shaped pasta, but I substituted spaghetti instead because it was all I had handy. He also used jalapeño pesto, but I doubled the amount of red chili flakes from what I would normally add to give it that kick without the hard work. I did make my own basic tomato sauce though, because, well, I usually do.

If you can’t find fresh baby octopuses, you can certainly used the frozen ones. Those are already cleaned. If you buy the fresh ones, all you have to do to clean them is to turn the head inside out and wash the entrails. Then pull out the eyes and remove the mouth which is found at the center of the octopus where the tentacles meet the head and body. It’s as easy as cleaning fresh squid. If you can only find large octopus, cook that longer until it’s tender and just slice it in smaller pieces before tossing with the pasta.

2 pounds of baby octopuses, cleaned, washed, drained
1 bundle of spaghetti
2 cups basic tomato sauce
12 fresh mint leaves
3 tbsps red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
red chili flakes
olive oil, salt, pepper

1. Using a large pot, cook pasta al dente in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes. Remove and drain. Set aside. You will cook the pasta more later.
2. While cooking the pasta, cook the octopuses. In a large saucepot, combine octopuses with the red wine vinegar and just enough water to cover. Cook uncovered and immediately remove from heat as soon as the octopuses change color. Drain and set aside to let cool.
3. In a large skillet, heat some olive oil. Sauté the garlic until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce and chili flakes and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Add the octopuses and the pasta. Toss over high heat for about a minute with the mint leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

Related post/s:
Deluxe Food Market sells fresh octopus some days of the week
Make your own tomato sauce
Or for the squeamish, try cooking squid first
The Babbo Cookbook at

4 thoughts on “Pasta with Baby Octopus”

  • 1
    drt on November 13, 2008

    Hmm, looks good but there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of tomato sauce involved in the picture, please explain…

  • 2
    cia on November 14, 2008

    Ah, for photo’s sake. But the 2 cups should be just fine when you mix them all up.

  • 3
    drt on November 16, 2008

    I’m making this recipe right now… one question arose; it sais to take the octopuses of the heat when they change color, ca. how long does this take? I put mine up with the vinegar and cold water to cover (only 3 octopi not even a pound) and put it on the stove, it was probably not more than a couple of minutes till they turned mostly white… long enough or did I just screw up my dinner…

  • 4
    cia on November 16, 2008

    It doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to cook octopus or squid, any longer and you got something rubbery. I hope it worked out.

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