Loretta Sebastiani

Loretta Sebastiani
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Octopus in tomato sauce
( Polpo alla Luciana )

Traditional recipe of Naples

The octopus in tomato sauce I'm going to show you is a particular Italian recipe. It's called "polpo alla Luciana" and it's the typical way in which Neapolitan fishermen cooked octopus without adding many other ingredients. The secret of the recipe is its long cooking time on very low heat. One to two hours according to the size, until soft. Read more on history, below. You should recover their cuisine to learn how to save money and make the best using a few things. Mediterranean diet recipe.

difficulty: easy

time: 2 hours

calories: 377 (kCal)

Ingredients / Serves 4

  • 1kg (2.2 pounds) octopus
  • 500g (1.1 pounds) ripe but firm tomatoes
  • Some sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 hot chilli pepper
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
easy recipe
preparation: 30 minutes
cooking: at least an hour
total: 2 hours
How many calories in a serving?
Calories: 377 (kcal) 19 % - 1577 (kJ)
Protein: 25.1 (g) 51 % GDA
Total fat: 27.5 (g) 40 % GDA
Total carbohydrate: 7.5 (g) 3 % GDA
Sugars: 7.5 (g) 9 % GDA

Download free PDF version (277 download).

Recipe for octopus in tomato sauce

    Preparation and cooking

  • - Prepare octopus.
    Generally octopus is sold pre-cleaned.
    It's enough to remove its beak.
    If your octopus is big it would be better to beat it on the working surface.
  • - Prepare other ingredients.
    Clean, wash and chop parlsey.
    Peel garlic cloves.
    Wash tomatoes, peel and chop.
  • - Cooking.
    Put octopus in a pot, preferably earthenware.
    Cover and begin cooking.
    When your octopus begins to eliminate its liquid add all other ingredients, olive oil included.
    Close your pan tightly with a sheet of parchment paper, tying it very well.
    Continue cooking on very low heat, about an hour if you have some small octopus to two hours if one, big octopus.
    There is no need to add water.

Just before serving

  • - Serve octopus in tomato sauce hot, sprinkled with some of its cooking juice.



  • - There is no need to add salt as octopus eliminates its salty liquid, cooking.
    But be careful, your recipe could be really too salty even without adding salt.
    So my tip is to let your octopus begin eliminating its liquid, remove it completely and then continue cooking following my steps.
  • - You can also use canned tomatoes. This advice is especially true in winter when there are no fresh ripe tomatoes.
  • - I generally use the amount of olive oil as suggested by tradition because I make this recipe rarely but you can reduce it.
  • - You can make this recipe according to the most ancient Neapolitan tradition that you can read in the history, below. In this case, do not add tomatoes and octopus should be quite soupy.

Menu planning

  • - This recipe of octopus in tomato sauce is the combination of two courses. In fact in Italy we use its tomato sauce to dress spaghetti or trenette and octopus as second course.
    When I cook octopus in this way for my family I have my lunch with pasta and dinner with octopus, in the same day.
    But you could also prepare a full menu, Italian style for your get-togethers with these octopus dishes. Serve pasta as first course and octopus as second course accompanied by a side dish, to let your guests taste real Italian flavors.
  • - Choose your favorite side dish for octopus. Mashed or boiled potatoes or green seasonal salad are the best choices according to my opinion.

Healthy eating

  • - Have you read calories for octopus in tomato sauce? you could say this pot is not high in calories. But you have to think the only octopus isn't a satisfactory meal. So calories can increase very much depending on what you add to this dish. For example a portion of bread (50g - 1 3/4 ounce) has about 150 calories. In this case don't accompany octopus with potatoes but prefer boiled seasonal vegetables ;)
  • - In the end everything is resolved for its cooking time, considerably long. For this reason stewed octopus is not made frequently.
  • - Fiber per serving: 2.5 grams (daily intake: 30 grams)


What's the right wine for " Octopus in tomato sauce "?

My husband and I tested a white and red wine with this octopus recipe: Fiano di Avellino (white wine of Campania) and a not aged Chianti (red wine of Tuscany). The choice is yours according to your own taste.

A little history

Octopus "alla Luciana" is a typical Neapolitan recipe born in the village of Saint Lucia, near Naples, to be more precise. When fishermen return home they cook their octopus, cut into pieces, in their own liquid. Cooking was very slow and in the end octopus was served in a cup with its broth.

Over time tomatoes, garlic, parlsey and hot chilli pepper were added and its thick and tasty sauce used to dress pasta.
This is the reason why I have written it would be important to know better fishermen cuisine, to learn how to save money. Only an ingredient for two courses! What about it?