By Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca

Translating to “octopus in purgatory”, this simple recipe is made up of just a handful of ingredients. Serve with toasted bread and a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


– 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 red onion, thinly sliced
– 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
– 1–2 tsp dried chilli flakes (use as much as you can handle!)
– 1 kg baby octopus, cleaned (see Note)
– 200 ml red wine
– 200 ml water
– Salt flakes
– Roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
– Crusty bread, to serve


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 1–2 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for for another 1–2 minutes. Add the octopus and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, then pour in the wine and cook for 1–2 minutes or until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the water and bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 1–½ hours or until the baby octopus is tender. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.

Scatter with chopped parsley and serve hot with chunks of bread to mop up that glorious sauce.

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