4 1/2 pounds of octopus, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
1 1/4 pounds of whole pearl onions, peeled (or medium onions, cut in strips)
2 1/2 cups pulped fresh tomatoes (or canned chopped stewed tomatoes)
1 clove of garlic, minced
7/8 cup of olive oil
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of good quality red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
3 bay leaves
If the octopus has not been cleaned: Under running water, remove and discard the ink sac, stomach, and eyes from the large head cavity.
Remove the beak, at the bottom of the head where it joins the tentacles, with a sharp knife. Place the whole octopus in a pot with enough boiling water to cover generously. When it resumes boiling, cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain. When cool enough to handle, rub the octopus with your hands under running water to remove the dark outer membrane. Cut octopus into small (1/2 to 1 inch) pieces.
In a large pot, bring the olive oil to medium heat and sauté the onions and octopus for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the water and continue to cook for 5 minutes more, stirring to make sure the onions aren't sticking to the bottom.
Add the tomato pulp and garlic, bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar, pepper, and bay leaves, stir well, and let cook for another minute. Remove from the heat at allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.