Octopus braised in red wine with lemon and oregano

Octopus braised in red wine with lemon and oregano

Real Food by Mike
Alan Benson

Strong, bold flavours, such as those in this dish, make you feel warm in winter. Large octopus has a really delicious flavour and texture. If you can’t find any, then baby octopus will cook the same way, but you may need to reduce the cooking time – try checking after 20 minutes. It’s nice to leave the pits in the olives as they add to the tannins but, if you’re concerned about breaking your teeth, I suggest removing them. This is delicious served as a sauce with plain pasta, but I suggest cutting the octopus into bite-sized chunks. Good types of pasta to use would be the larger kinds that hold sauce well, such as shells and penne.


Quantity Ingredient
100g brown onions, finely diced
100g carrots, finely diced
60g leeks, finely diced
60g fennel, finely diced
60g celery stalks, finely diced
40g garlic cloves, sliced
2 bay leaves
100g small black olives
1/2 bunch oregano, leaves picked, plus extra to serve
200ml extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and stems finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
600ml red wine
1kg large octopus
crusty bread, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. In a large, cast-iron, heavy-based ovenproof frying pan over medium heat, sauté the vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, olives and oregano in the olive oil for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the parsley stems, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest and the red wine and let the mixture sizzle for a minute before adding the octopus. Stir gently to coat the octopus.
  3. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over very low heat for 1 hour. Test to see whether the octopus is tender by removing one of the tentacles and slicing it with a knife. If it’s to your liking, remove the octopus and simmer the liquid a little longer to form a glossy black sauce.
  4. Place the octopus on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter over the extra oregano, the parsley leaves and the lemon zest. Serve with the crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Octopus is a nutritious lean protein, packed with vitamins B12 and B6, plus the minerals selenium, iron and copper. Oregano has antifungal, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, and its essential oils are believed to alleviate the symptoms of respiratory ailments like colds and flus.
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