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Paccheri pasta with octopus alla Genovese
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5 from 21 votes

Paccheri pasta with octopus alla Genovese

This slow-cooked octopus and onion ragu is a traditional recipe from Naples that's easy to make and wonderful for weekends and special occasions. If you love seafood pasta, you'll love pasta with octopus alla Genovese.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Campania, Italian, Mediterranean, Neapolitan, Southern Italian
Keyword: alla Genovese, authentic Italian pasta recipe, octopus, octopus ragu, paccheri recipe, seafood, seafood pasta
Servings: 4
Calories: 780kcal
Author: Jacqueline De Bono


  • 400 g paccheri pasta (14oz) or ziti or other pasta tubes
  • 850 octopus (2lbs) fresh or frozen
  • 2 stalks celery washed and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots washed and finely chopped
  • 2 kg onions (4lbs) peeled and sliced
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper. to taste


Clean the octopus

  • If you buy a fresh octopus, ask the fishmonger to clean it. Otherwise, you need to remove the eyes and the innards from the head if you want to use it. Every part of an octopus can be eaten including the head. Once it is cleaned, it’s the same as a squid/calamari body and good to eat. You will also have to remove the beak. Check out this how to article from Wikihow in the recipe notes

Prepare the ingredients

  • Then thoroughly wash the octopus. If it's frozen, defrost completely first. Then cut it into small pieces. You can use all the octopus, tentacles, body and head. Wash and chop the celery and carrots finely. Peel and slice the onions. Peel the garlic.

Make the octopus ragu

  • Sauté the celery, carrots and garlic with olive oil over a medium heat in a heavy deep pan that has a lid (I used my Dutch oven). When the veg has softened, add the octopus pieces, mix everything together and let sauté for 3-5 minutes. Then add the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Finally, add the onions on top of the octopus, season with salt and a pinch of pepper and cover the pot with a lid.
  • Cooking times may vary depending on the size of the octopus pieces and the size of the original octopus if you used a whole fresh one. Cook for about 90 minutes- 2 hours over a very low heat. Keep checking that the sauce does not stick. Stir occasionally and add a little water if it seems too dry. However, the onions will produce a lot of liquid. When the octopus is tender your ragu is ready.

Cook the pasta and serve

  • Once the octopus is ready, 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. Save a cup of pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and add it to the octopus ragu. If it seems dry, add a little of the saved pasta cooking water. I transferred the ragu to a flatter pan before adding the pasta and pasta water.
  • Mix the pasta and octopus ragu together and serve immediately.


If you need to clean the octopus, check out this link on wikihow
You can use paccheri, ziti or other pasta tubes for this octopus alla Genovese. If you'd like your sauce a little spicy, add some Italian peperoncino (red chili pepper)
The ragu can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days and in the freezer for a couple of months.