I have to admit, sometimes, in this wanna-be low-carb world, I just want to enjoy a big bowl of pasta. It’s quick, easy, satisfying, and filling. But, of course, as always and most importantly, delicious.
So, I’m going to introduce you to one of my & Husband Steve’s favorite pasta dishes. Pasta alla Puttanesca.
Pasta alla Puttanesca literally translates into “Whores’ Pasta”. Its origin myths are a bit murky, but by most accounts, it’s a dish that dates back only about 50 – 60 years and was most likely created in southern Italy.
Some say the dish was invented by an Italian restaurateur who had an influx of customers near closing time one evening and threw together what he had left over – some olives, tomatoes, and peppers. Another origin story is that is was named “puttanesca” because it was easy and everything went into it. A third story is “decent” Italian housewives made this sauce with whatever they had laying around and threw it at ladies of the night while screaming “puttana!”.
I’m not so sure about the third one. But, who knows?
This is an easy dish. From prep to eating, it takes no more than 45 minutes.
A few notes:
1. Since there are no true hard and fast rules for this dish – except that it must have the tomatoes, olives, and peppers – you can add or remove ingredients as you like. That being said, I like to think I’ve at least stayed with the spirit of the original recipe.
2. Some recipes have anchovies, some don’t. If you want to make this dish vegetarian/vegan, certainly omit the anchovies.
3. It’s also very important to at least roughly chop the olives. Even if you do buy olives that say “pitted”, pits will happen. The chopping will help you find any before your guests or family do.
4. Be sure to taste the finished sauce before adding any additional salt. The olives are in brine, the anchovies are salted, and the capers are either in brine or salt. While you can rinse the excess saltiness off the olives and capers, some salt will still be there.
5. Occasionally, I like to use some of the oil from the anchovy jar with the olive oil. I really like anchovies.
1 lb. spaghetti
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 – 10 anchovy filets, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes (with their juice)
1 1/2 c. pitted black or mixed black and green olives, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. capers, rinsed
Salt to taste
Parmesan, fresh grated
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, and anchovies. Saute for 1 – 2 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, capers, and olives. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want some of the liquid from the tomatoes to evaporate and the sauce to thicken slightly.
4. Take the skillet off the heat and toss the spaghetti in the sauce. Taste for salt (you’ll very likely not need it).
Serve with a generous helping of Parmesan.