This dish was inspired by a classic Lenten dish of tomato-braised octopus with pasta, served throughout Greece. At Alpha we twice-cook the octopus and serve it on top of macaroni pasta that is cooked in a light tomato sauce flavoured with mastic, oregano and saffron.
- 1 kg octopus tentacles, separated
- 4 garlic cloves, halved
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp rigani (dried Greek oregano)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 2 cups finely diced leek
- 1 cup finely diced brown onion
- ½ cup finely diced celery
- ½ cup finely diced fennel
- 4 garlic cloves, microplaned
- 125 ml (½ cup) white wine
- 50 ml mastic liqueur
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- 1 litre (4 cups) tomato puree
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 0.5 g saffron threads
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- ½ tsp dried mint
- ½ tsp rigani (dried Greek oregano)
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 250 g macaroni kofto, cooked (see Note)
- 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, peeled
- ½ bunch marjoram leaves
- 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 50 ml mastic-infused olive oil (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the saganaki sauce, heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the leek, onion, celery, fennel and garlic and cook for 15 minutes or until softened.
Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until reduced by half.
To finish, add the finishing ingredients to the sauce and divide among plates.
To confit the octopus, place the octopus, garlic, sumac, salt, thyme, lemon juice and 100 ml of the oil in a pressure cooker, seal according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and cook for 19 minutes.
When ready, release the steam and unseal the pressure cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the octopus from the cooking liquid and set both aside.
Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue to high. Drizzle the remaining 25 ml of oil over the octopus, season with salt, pepper and the rigani, and grill for 2 minutes each side until nicely charred. Brush with the reserved cooking liquid as it cooks.
Top the saganaki sauce with the octopus.
• I prefer to use Misko brand macaroni kofto (it’s a small macaroni-shaped pasta, like tubetti), available from most supermarkets.
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.
Peter Conistis is the head chef at Alpha. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.
This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.