Traditionally, Neapolitan baby octopus alla Luciana is eaten either with spaghetti or linguine, or as a starter with crusty bread. However, this braised octopus also makes for a delicious main course. So, you can actually cook once and eat twice!
Carefully wash the baby octopus under running water and dry them. Peel the garlic. Wash and chop the parsley. Rinse the capers well if they are salted.
Put the extra virgin olive oil into a Dutch oven or deep skillet add the peeled garlic cloves. Soften the cloves over a medium heat. Then add the baby octopus and cook them for 5 minutes. Turn them so they start to brown on each side.
Turn up the heat. Add the white wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates.
Add the black olives, capers and small tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes until tomatoes start to soften.
Add the passata, salt and pepper to taste and peperoncino flakes (if using). Mix everything together well and cook over a low-medium heat covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (until the octopus is soft).
Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is ready save a cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
If your cooking pot isn’t big enough, transfer the baby octopus and sauce to a warmed large bowl. Mix in some of the pasta cooking water if your sauce seems dry and then add the drained pasta. Mix everything together well. Serve immediately sprinkled with chopped parsley.
If you use fresh octopus, get your fishmonger to clean them for you. Otherwise you will need to open the head sac and wash out the guts. Then remove the beak and eyes.
Instead of small tomatoes and passata you can also use 400-600 g canned peeled tomatoes.