Polpo (Octopus) alla Luciana Recipe

Polpo (Octopus) alla Luciana

Polpo alla Luciana is one of the simplest and most delicious ways to prepare this exotic seafood. A traditional recipe from Borgo di Santa Lucia, a picturesque district next to Naples’ port. Buying pre-cooked or frozen octopus really helps as it cuts down the preparation time considerably to about 45 minutes. Even in the US pre-cooked octopus is now more readily available in some supermarkets, like Costco. Most recipes only call for the octopus to be cooked in tomato sauce. The addition of an Italian soffritto to the tomatoes let flavors speak for themselves.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 lb (450 g) precooked or frozen octopus tentacles, cut up into about 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup (140 g) finely diced onions
  • 1 cup (140 g) finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup (100 g) celery stalks finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) white wine
  • 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb (450 g) stewed tomatoes, canned ones are fine
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 12 green or black olives
  • 2 Tbsp finely minced flat-leaf parsley for garnish


Start by preparing the Italian soffritto. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are beginning to soften, do not let them get mushy. Add wine and cook it down to half. Divide sofritto portion in two. Set aside.

Add one half of the of cooked sofritto to the tomatoes, tomato paste, octopus pieces and bay leaf, oregano and chicken stock. Keep the remaining sofritto aside. Season octopus stew with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes or until tentacles are tender when pierced with a knife.

Add the remaining sofritto to the octopus and cook it until carrots are tender but still have some bite. If the sauce is too thick, add more chicken stock. Add capers and olives and cook for 2-3 minutes longer. Taste for seasonings, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and serve.

Scroll to Top