Monday, February 14, 2011

Pasta Puttanesca

In their inimitable manner, our friends, T and J, texted from the road yesterday.

"What's for dinner?"

"Where are you?"

"We'll be home in two hours."

"Good.  What do you want for dinner?"

"Do you have pasta?"

"Of course.  See you at six."

I did a quick survey of the pantry and the refrigerator and determined  that pasta puttanesca would be perfect.

Out of all the stories of the origins of this spicy tomato sauce,  I like this legend the best. It is said that puttanesca sauce was originated in Naples by the ladies of the evening.  The ingredients were easy to keep on hand and very quick to cook. Thus, the ladies were able to get some sustenance between customers. Although the prostitutes probably did not invent this sauce, they sure made it popular.

This sauce is one of my favorites, and it cooks in the time it takes for the water for the pasta comes to a boil. While spaghetti seems to be the preferred pasta here, I had none so I used penne.  Nothing was lost in the translation.

After filming the bottom of a saucepan with olive oil, I dropped in 6 diced anchovy fillets.  Don't worry--the anchovies magically melt into the oil giving the sauce a lovely a depth of flavor. Then I pressed about 4 cloves of garlic into the oil and turned the heat to medium. When the anchovies began to melt and the garlic softened, I added a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and one and a half boxes of Pomi chopped tomatoes.  Actually, I gave the tomatoes a rough puree with my immersion blender before adding them to the pot.  After bringing the tomatoes to a simmer, I added about a half a cup of chopped Kalamata olives, 2 tablespoons capers and a handful of chopped parsley and cooked it for about 10 minutes.

After draining 1 pound of penne, I tossed most of the sauce with the pasta and sprinkled on some more chopped parsley.

I served additional sauce at the table for those who wanted more along with some grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. The result is amazing Michele! I love your pasta. Happy Valentines day.

  2. Faith and Denise: Thank you, ladies.

  3. Ooh yes, this is one of my favourite store cupboard dishes. I make it a lot - delicious. Your friends are very lucky people.

  4. Thanks, Kath. It pays to have a well-stocked pantry.

  5. I love a spontaneous meal with good friends... somehow everything tastes better. Your pasta looks delish!

  6. Zia: Thanks so much. There's not much better than good friends and good food. Thank you for stopping by.

  7. Anchovies are amazing, with their pungent melting power!
    T and J are lucky to have you as a friend, able to whip up wonderful meals, like that!
    hope you had a nice V-Day..