Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'Saucy' Neapolitan Pasta Puttanesca

Years ago, my friend Deborah and I would get together at my place every other weekend and I'd make Pasta Puttanesca, and we'd watch Masterpiece Theatre. To this day, whenever I make this recipe I think back to those evenings and smile. I don't recall why I kept making the same dish each time, perhaps it was the comfort of a welcome routine, but neither of us complained because it was really good! Pasta Puttanesca is still one of my favourite pasta sauces. 

Robust and salty, it usually consists of pasta, tomatoes, anchovies, black olives, capers and garlic. An italian dish originating in Naples, the name puttanesca came from the Italian word puttana, which means prostitute, so it became known as "whore's pasta" — also because it's hot, spicy, robust and easy to make!

“Whore’s pasta.” Was ever a name so perfectly suited to a dish? It's edgy, spicy, and just the right side of wrong, conjuring up visions of Neapolitan streets and dangerous women in tight dresses".   
—Sophie Dahl

Pasta Puttanesca

1 lb spaghetti, linguine or any other dried pasta
2 450g cans peeled plum tomatoes
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup pitted black pitted olives
1/4 drained capers
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
8 anchovy filets, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley, plus additional for garnish
fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp salt

  1. Drain the tomatoes, cut them into halves and squeeze out as much water as possible. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the onion, anchovies and red pepper flakes, and cook briefly until the onions are soft and the anchovies have disintegrated, about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes, oregano, olives and capers; season with pepper to taste. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently with no lid 30-40 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and very little liquid is left. 
  2. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and stir in pasta. Cook until tender but firm. Drain immediately, returning the pasta to the pot, adding some of the sauce and tossing to combine so the noodles are lightly coated.
  3. In warmed serving bowls, serve a portion of the coated pasta and top with puttanesca sauce; garnish with chopped parsley and serve with parmesan or pecorino on the side.

Serves 4