Though the quickly ending year is leaving quite a bit to be desired behind, all in all I can say that there were nothing but upsides this past December 25th. They are:
- Spending Christmas morning in bed with the amore piccolo and the amore grande watching "The Interview"
- Finding Christmas joy in cooking and hosting a meal for 30, and managing to sit them all
- Knowing at least 30 people who understand that the first item on this list completely justifies delaying festivities by 3 hours
- Discovering that the 12 days of Christmas START rather than end on Christmas Day (did everyone know that? If so, shouldn't someone have told me on by Day 2 or 3 of my Italian holiday table series??)
- Having enough leftovers to continue the series for several days
First up: repurposing that lone octopus tentacle swimming in its own perfect broth. This one accounted for 2 meals, one of spaghetti-below and one of risotto-coming soon...
Spaghetti al sugo di polpo piccante
Spaghetti with spicy octopus sauce
for 6 people
lone octopus tentacle from recipe described here
1 garlic clove
1 handful basil leaves
2 tablespoon tomato concentrate
1 cup octopus stock olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste
splash dry white wine
salt to taste
Cut the octopus tentacles in very small morsels. Smash and peel the garlic clove.
Stack the basil leaves, roll them longitudinally and slice them in very thin ribbons.
Heat the octopus stock and dilute the tomato concentrate in it.
Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic clove and half the basil in a sautè pan. Gently heat everything until the fragrance of the garlic wafts to your nostrils.
Discard the garlic clove and add the cut octopus. Warm for a couple of minutes and deglaze with the wine.
Wait until the wine smells caressing rather than acrid then add the octopus stock with the tomato concentrate.
While it is gently simmering to slightly reduce, cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water.
Using a handheld strainer transfer the spaghetti into the sautè pan about 4 minutes before the suggested cooking time printed on the package.
Finish cooking by gradually adding small amounts of the water in which the spaghetti cooked. Be mindful to add the liquid in small amounts so that the pasta has a chance to absorb it. If too much liquid is added, one is bound to end with with either overcooked or soupy pasta.
When the spaghetti have reached the consistency most palatable to you, finish with a short stream of olive oil and serve immediately in a warm platter after garnishing with the remainder of the basil.
- You might have noticed that I omit the salt from this recipe except for what goes in the water for the pasta. That is by design in that the octopus stock is more often than not salty enough to carry it on to the rest of the dish, however, I do suggest that you try the sauce to make sure it is agreeable to your preferred level of saltiness