Baby Octopus Alla Diavola (Moscardini alla Diavola)


You can encounter baby octopus in a hot red sauce all along the long Italian coastline. “Alla diavola” refers to the use of chilli flakes. You can make it as hot or as mild as you like. If you are fortunate enough to have access to good ripe tomatoes and fresh baby octopus, all the better. But this is nice enough when using frozen baby octopus and canned peeled tomatoes. The baby octopus do take a while to become tender, but otherwise this is a simple dish that can be served either as antipasto or as secondo.



For 2 servings as a main course, or 4 servings as an appetizer

500 grams (1.1 lbs) baby octopus (thawed if using frozen)

125 grams (1/2 cup) peeled tomatoes, pureed in the foodprocessor

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, minced

1 small carrot, minced

1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine


1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil



Mince garlic, carrot, onion, and parsley.


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the minced vegetables, and stir for a minute over medium heat.


Add the baby octopus…


…and stir over high heat until the octopus releases its water.


Add 80 ml of dry white wine…


…125 grams of pureed tomatoes…


…and chilli flakes to taste. Season with salt and stir.


Bring to a boil…


…then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover with the lid slightly ajar, and simmer…


…until the octopus is tender and the sauce has been reduced, about an hour. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and chilli flakes.


Serve the baby octopus hot, with the sauce (or at room temperature in summer).

Wine pairing

dsc04341This is excellent with a Vermentino, either from Sardinia or Liguria.



These duck and orange ravioli are just wonderful. Duck and orange are a classic combination, and in these ravioli they come together in elegant pillows of thin pasta.

20 thoughts on “Baby Octopus Alla Diavola (Moscardini alla Diavola)

  1. Great! And can get baby octopus at every one of my s’markets, and , sadly, they will probably be frozen! May I humbly suggest the only part of taking this ‘abroad’ are the chili flakes, few at that!! May I humbly and ignorantly suggest I would have cooked it ‘short’ . . . soba . . . udon . . . whatever noodles in attendance . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unlike squid and its relatives, which can be cooked either briefly or for a long time, octopus in my experience always needs long cooking to become tender. Although freezing does help to tenderize them.


      1. Agree! BUT, these were nominated as ‘baby’ octopus . . . . the ones I get are less than a man’s ‘thumb’ in size . . . . honestly, about 6-8 would barely make a very reasonably serving ๐Ÿ™‚ ! I’ll cook Greek long at any time but these are fun and fast ๐Ÿ™‚ ! Wish you were here at the moment: bet I could make Kees and you aficionados of road cycling having the fun I’m having!!!


          1. After a some decade of using huge fun and more of ‘knowledge’ please DO believe that it wonderfully, gorgeously ‘there’ . . . . what a great day . . . . . many fantastic interviews . . . can’t wait until the next . . .

            Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi Kathryn, I’m sorry but I have to agree with Hans that you should be able to tell if it was baby octopus or not. If you look at the photo, you can see that the tentacles of the baby octopus are tiny. If it is mature octopus, a single tentacle is thicker than the entire baby octopus. So if you can see tiny tentacles, it was baby octopus. If not, it was mature octopus.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I am busy cooking this recipe now.. Unfortunately I added a whole can of crushed tomatoes (400 gr) instead of 125 grams.

    Still looks OK. Will let it simmer without the lid so it will reduce a bit. As I am tasting it, already in LOVE with the recipe.


    Liked by 1 person

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