Octopus Bolognese

Octopus Bolognese

This quick and rich nontraditional riff on bolognese features convenient yet under-used tender and meaty tinned octopus. Look for octopus that’s packed in olive oil; the oil will add depth to the sauce, along with clam juice to heighten the seafood flavor. Tangy capers brighten the sauce, while nutty Parmesan rounds it out. (Cheese can typically overpower the delicate flavor of seafood, but octopus has a hearty texture and here, it is enhanced by a hit of nutty Parmesan cheese.) Serve it over pasta or polenta; it’s also great with mashed potatoes or sopped up with crusty bread.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium. Add onion, carrot and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then the tomato paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly caramelized, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot, then stir in the clam juice and basil sprigs; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high.
  2. Step 2

    Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook at a lively simmer for 15 minutes. Add octopus and its oil and mix well. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Turn off heat, discard basil, and stir in cheese and capers.
  3. Step 3

    Serve octopus bolognese over pasta or polenta. Garnish with more basil and cheese, plus red-pepper flakes, if using.