Monday, March 2, 2015

Pasta alla Puttanesca: A Neapolitan Classic

Food can be an extraordinarily evocative sense, bringing back memories of enjoying a particular food but also of people, places and settings. Years ago, I would get together every other weekend with my friend Deborah and make Pasta Puttanesca, then 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 so delicious! It's still one of my favourite pastas. 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," 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 -

Puttanesca sauce with tomatoes, garlic, capers, anchovies, oregano, olives and Sriracha

Enticed by the packaging of Lidia's new line of pasta, I purchased the fusilli and surprisingly was very impressed with the quality of the pasta

Pasta Puttanesca
Serves 4

1 lb fusilli or other dried pasta
2 28 oz cans of San Marzano Italian peeled plum tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1/2 cup canned sliced black olives or pitted Nicoise
1/4 cup drained capers
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
8 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, plus additional for garnish
2 tsp salt
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish

Combine the tomatoes and a little olive oil in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Keep the sauce at a full boil and add the remaining ingredients except pasta, one at a time, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking. The sauce can be covered and kept warm over low heat until required.

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add some salt and stir in the dried pasta. Cook until tender but still firm. Drain immediately and add to the puttanesca sauce, stirring well to combine. Serve immediately with a garnish of chopped parsley and grated Parmigiano on the side for sprinkling over the pasta.