I must credit a certain Gayle Bailey(Yup, another gorgeous member of my family) as the inspiration behind this recipe. My children NEVER knew they were eating octopus until after they finished. While sitting down at my home, her and I started talking and talking and never finished a complete thought because we had so much to gab about. I could literally sit down with her and just plain listen to her culinary stories from various countries she has frequented, as well as her deep-rooted, Southern upbringing that is so obvious when talking with her. In one particularly interesting topic, Gayle related to me that she had visited Italy in the past and had enjoyed an addition in her tomato sauce while there. She loved it and now only makes her tomato sauces using this addition. that . Grated lemon rind! I had to experiment and on the first try I was taken aback. Not only was the sauce perfectly balanced in flavor with the addition of lemon, but to combine this sauce with the great taste of seafood and the kick of a little chile oil, it was spot on. Thank you Gayle, life is much tastier because of your brains AND beauty.
This recipe is aptly named for the lady who inspired me to rush to the store. If you translate the title of this aromatic dish, you will see to whom it is named. It may take a little "out-of-the-box" thinking, but I think you will get it. In the meantime, octopus is found fresh and it is not that expensive. If you happen to purchase frozen octopus or squid "leg meat", simply thaw before continue with recipe.
12 ounces linguine
2 tablespoons chile oil
1/2 pound sliced octopus*
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspon chopped basil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 sweet bell pepper, seeded and diced
Cook pasta according to package directions; set aside in strainer. Over medium heat, add the chile oil to a large skillet until hot. Add the prepared octopus and cook for 4-5 mintues, or until just cooked through. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, grated lemon zest, sugar, oregano and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When the octopus is done, add the bell pepper and continue cooking and additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomato suace mixture, stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Remove lid, add the pasta and toss(or stir) to coat well. Be careful, since the pasta is now very dry and lumped together somewhat, you will need caution when separating strands while tossing with the sauce. Divide evenly among plates and serve hot. Enough for 4-6 servings.
If you don't have any chile oil on hand and you really want this dish, simply add 1 cup olive oil to a small suacepan with 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes. Turn heat to low and let oil and pepper flakes gently warm together for 5 mintues. Remvoe from heat, cool to room temperature and transfer to a container with a lid. This will keep very well in the refrigerator for a month.
*You can buy fresh baby octopus at your local supermarket or use frozen, already sliced octopus (or squid) tentacles. I removed the "suckers' only for my children but feel free to leave on.