Octopus and Pasta Bake

Mar 19th, 2009 | By | Category: Baking, Braising, Greek, Greek Wine, Herbs, Main, Pasta, Recipes, Seafood

img_6934Last year during my vacation in Greece, I spent a couple of days in Naxos for a traditional Greek island wedding and then my plan was to visit the island of Sifnos for the first time. Oh yeah, I got to Sifnos but when one is in Greece, one should always expect a little adventure when it comes to transportation.img_6910

All the islands of the Cyclades are close to one another and logic would dictate that each island can be easily visited from the other, right? WRONG. I quickly found out that clusters of islands are tied to each other. Paros, Naxos and Antiparos seem to be a happy trio with regular ferries daily. Sifnos is not part of this three-island clique.img_6946

In Naxos at a tourist bureau, I quickly learned that if I wanted to get to Sifnos, I had to either go to Athens and then take another ferry that served an alternate ferry-run that included Sifnos or go to Paros, spend a night and then catch a small ferry boat (now out of commission) to reach Sifnos. I chose the latter option and I was kind of bummed that Greece’s infrastructure through a wrench in my itinerary (again).img_6785

I had visited Paros back in ’95 and one day and night would be a good one (as I recall from my blurred memory of  over a decade ago). Upon landing in Paros, I was(we all were) greeted by throngs of islanders barking offers of accomodation, complete with binders showcasing their properties. You will find this ritual taking place at almost every island in Greece. Hotel/pension operators know the ferry schedules very well and they drop off outgoing tourists and await, haggle and snag the latest tourists looking for a place to stay.

If you’re a Greek or you’re traveling with Greeks, this spontaneous form of hotel/accomodation booking can & will get you a decent room for a fair price. If you do not speak Greek or know the island’s geography too well, I suggest booking your room in advance. There are good and bad people in the tourist industry everywhere and having a language barrier exposes you even more to this fact.

img_6914After settling on a room, I plopped my bags on the floor, changed into beachwear and walked back into the town center to catch a bus to one of Paros’ many lovely beaches. This time, I settled on a quiet beach called Santa Maria, just yonder from Naoussa (there’s another Naoussa in Macedonia, Greece). I spent the whole day sitting on my deck chair, getting up to take a dip in the warm Aegean sea, lay back and then swim again. The only break in my beach routine was to get up and buy a baguette with ham, cheese and some vegetables. My dessert was a huge wedge of watermelon. Us Greek love our watermelon.img_6919

When in Greece, the highlight of my day is the beach but in Paros, one of the most memorable dining experiences was about to take place. My room was on the outskirts of Parikea, the maintown and port of Paros. All along the “limani” or port were tourist shops and tavernas catering to foreigner and Greek alike.img_6947

I settled on a taverna called Katerina’s. It was quiet (not too close to town), it was busy, I saw Greeks and Italians eating there (a good sign) and the waiter invited me to kitchen to see the day’s specials. Not too long ago, the majority of eateries employed the “open kitchen” concept where an array of specials were prepared for the day. The selection of dishes was determined by the seasonal ingredients that were available, quality and price.img_6948

As you can see from the two photographs, Katerina’s had much to choose from (which did not include the regular menu items). I opted for a Greek salad that had some the tastiest tomatoes I had eaten all summer, a plate of Tyrokafteri (Htipiti) and a main of their baked octopus and pasta.img_1496

I’ve had baked pasta with octopus before but NEVER anything this delicious, so aromatic and so delicious. Could have been that I was really hungry? Could it have been that the octopus was freshly caught on that day or was it that Katerina’s prepared this dish to perfection? I think all three factors were true. I washed this satisfying meal with some of Paros’ red wine. Most restaurants in Greece have “xima (pronounced heema) , barrel wine on their menu and if you’re not too snotty to forgo labeled wines, this is a wonderful way to enjoy good Greek wine at an affordable price.img_1498

At Katerina’s, large baking trays of elbow macaroni and whole, large octopus were served. Usually, this Greek island classic is served with “kofto macaronia” or as we know it, ditali. For nostalgic reasons, I’ve kept the use of elbow macaroni but I opted to use these baby octopus that I just adore. I think they are perfect for this baked pasta dish.

Nothing gets wasted here. The octopus are braised in their own liquid, the concentrated liquid from the octopus becomes an intense stock that becomes the undertone for this complex, flavourful sauce: add a mire poix, some bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, some dry red wine and chopped fresh dill and you’ll be transported to the Greek island of Paros, watching the sunset and savouring each moment of your vacation in Greece.

img_1500For this Octopus and Pasta Bake recipe and more, please purchase my Everything Mediterranean cookbook.

 

More info on Paros can be found HERE.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

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© 2009 – 2014, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

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54 Comments to “Octopus and Pasta Bake”

  1. christophile says:

    I lived on Paros for 4 months back in 2003! I was teaching Greek and Photography to American college students. Needless to say we didn’t have many lessons, but ate a lot of great food!

  2. Gorgeous views – what a wonderful vacation! The pasta and octopus bake look incredible – I have never had anything like that and definitely would love to try!

  3. MsGourmet says:

    Stunning photos – there really is nothing like a Mediterranean sunset!

  4. Love the toe shot.
    Wish I were there…….ah, what beaches!

  5. Peter G says:

    I had to LOL at the logic of the Greek ferry system…aaah! things never change. As for Paros it all looks so magical and dream like Peter. And let’s not forget that beautiful food and the wonderful octopus baked with pasta…absolutely delicious!

  6. Thanks for the trip around Paros Peter. This dish must bring back such wonderful memories.

  7. Elsee says:

    Lovely photos & fun story…but what is this?

    “In a pot large enough to hold your octopus, add the ‘p and the wine cork”

  8. Heather says:

    ohhh, that pasta looks so delicious and summery. and those pictures are amazing!

  9. Ben says:

    If I ever to Greece I’ll keep in mind that I should expect some adventure in transportation, but being from Mexico I am used to transportation adventures. LOL

    Pasta and octopus, wow, my mind is spinning trying to figure out this delicious combination.

  10. Wow, that dish looks amazing. Making me very, very hungry right during my post-engagement diet, damn you! :D

  11. Peter, we’re thinking of Greece for a honeymoon destination this fall. If we do, I’ll have to email you for some advice if you don’t mind… been dying to go!

  12. maryann says:

    I love the baby octopus with pasta dish. Never saw baby octopus here where I live. I will keep my eyes open for them now.

  13. maria says:

    the photographs of the mageirio are amazing, and so is your baby octopus dish – i’m definitely making this some time during lent

  14. Pam says:

    There are many places I plan to visit in my lifetime and Greece is at the top of the list….It is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing your pictures.

    The pasta with octopus looks rich and delicious!

  15. athena says:

    omg, i so want to eat that right now! also, some htipiti would be nice. :-)

  16. Sam says:

    i love the photographs, it looks like a beautiful place and the food looks amazing!

  17. The colors are just amazing! So beautiful! I have to tell you though, octopus is one of the only foods where I internally cringe! I did enjoy all the scenery photos though and just tried to look away and scroll fast through the octopus ones. :)

  18. Rosa says:

    I’d love to relax on that beach! What a gorgeous dish!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  19. elra says:

    Beautiful Peter! and there you go a fast array of another beautiful food.
    Cheers,
    elra

  20. elra says:

    I mean vast not fast, sorry!

  21. Ivy says:

    Makaronaki kofto kai ktapodi is a very filling meal during Lent and one of our favourite.

  22. Amy says:

    Thank you for posting this. Your pictures are beautiful…and I may have to see what I can about making use of that recipe (gotta find a place that sells baby octopi).

    That and this *really* makes me want to visit Greece one day…

  23. Feels like we’ve just returned from Greece.

  24. Paula says:

    Whoa … I want to run to the airport and hop on the first plane that will get me to that beach! I’d also like a serving of your baby octopus and pasta to keep me happy while I’m there! YUM! I homeschool my son, and we just finished studying Greece in geography. It was fun to see your photos of some of the places we studied.

  25. Joan Nova says:

    Love the white-washed streets and all the delicious food, especially the baked pasta and octopus — something I’ve never seen or thought about it — but I’m loving it! P.S. Your toes in the beach photo?

  26. ELENA says:

    Peter, you brought the summer in my heart!!!
    Thank you:)))

  27. Haley W. says:

    Oh, wow, this looks amazing. I love the flavors used in this pasta. Your photos are so beautiful, too!

  28. that really does look beautiful. why do i feel like i just couldn’t make this dish and do it justice? it really is lovely and simple!

    plus, why are you teasing us with those beach shots? so mean.

  29. elly says:

    I am cracking up at the traveling adventures, because I had those the last time I went, even in Athens. A friend visited for a week while I was there and he ended up having a drunk taverna owner drive him back to my yiayia’s apartment because he was lost. lol.

  30. Jan says:

    Love this post Peter. I could look at pictures of Greek islands and Greek food all day long!

  31. pam says:

    I love all the white buildings! I’m not to sure about the octopus though.

  32. Beautiful photos…looks like forever holidaying!
    Ronell

  33. giz says:

    Doesn’t everybody make mac and octopus?

  34. Heather says:

    omg, you only have one foot! hahaha

    The macaroni and pulpo is KILLING me.

  35. kellypea says:

    Thanks for the much needed “trip” to Greece this morning. It’s pretty dreary here, and it perked me up! Greece is on my list of places to visit, but most likely won’t be until 2010 — yep, all reservations made in advance. I don’t mind playing travel by ear, but not when I don’t speak the language. Gorgeous photos, Peter!

  36. What gorgeous beach photos. With snow greeting the first day of spring here in NY, all I can think of is how much I want to be there. Look at all of those beautiful pots of food. Even the octopus looks interesting, in a creepy sort of way. ;-)

  37. Wow Peter! That looks fantastic. I’m having some trouble imagining what that tastes like though. Maybe you can come over and make me some;-)

  38. Maggie says:

    Gorgeous photos and a delicious looking dish! I love the shot of the octopuses hanging at the market stall.

  39. A lovely post that makes me feel as though I’ve just had a mini vacation!

  40. FoodJunkie says:

    I have never had baby octopus before. I think you are not allowed to catch them in Greece.

  41. Oh this octopus with makaroni is a classic. I can’t wait until summer.

  42. grace says:

    octopi look so much more attractive in their bottoms-up state. in the water, they’re just creepy. lovely post, peter. here’s the part where i say i hope i see it myself one day. :)

  43. Soma says:

    Beautiful pictures. Love the sunset! But I cannot eat octopus, however nice they are made to look:-)

  44. Hélène says:

    Love the pictures Peter.

  45. Cheryl says:

    I love all of your photos…beautiful. Also, this dish looks absolutely delicious. Wow.

  46. Lori Lynn says:

    I come HERE to get my octopus fix.
    LL

  47. i don’t think that you could ever understand how much i want this dish… ever. it is a dream dinner to me…

  48. sarah says:

    incredible pictures of the landscape. wish i were there. LOL

  49. I saw baby octopus in the freezer section at the supermarket but didn’t get it for want of ideas. Hm, this pasta bake sounds uber-delicious. . .

  50. MyLastBite says:

    Wonderful post! My first Greek Island visit was to Paros back in 1986. It looks like things haven’t changed at all.

  51. Jamie says:

    Beautiful! Just beautiful! The food looks fantastic (always eat in a place full of Greeks and Italians! You know the food will be great and just like home!). That baked Octopus and Pasta sounds and looks tremendous!

  52. John Athanasiou says:

    My congratulation on your recipes. I found them well written. Someone with or without cooking experience could easily duplicate your results. You know what you are writing about.
    Your recent recommendation on using the pressure cooker is terrific. My wife Aliki tried it and made the tenderest octopus I ever had. I am originally from the island of Poros, Trizinias.
    When you recommend the use of the wine cork, could you specify a “real” cork? Many wine bottles now days here in California come with a new type of “foam” cork. I will not use it.
    Save as many wine corks as you need. They will soon be replaced with the “foam” type or with a twist cup

  53. Mary Damigos says:

    Ευχάριστο Πέτρος! It’s several years since I’ve been to Paros, one of my favorites!
    I take small groups sometimes (as certified tour director). With small sailing groups
    rarely get ‘paralia time’. Thank you for Ktopodi recipe! Still loving your great tips and
    Of course your fab recipes !

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