Getting It On With Pasta Puttanesca

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on January 14, 2015

Getting It On With Pasta Puttanesca,
One of the easiest and most satisfying of all traditional Italian pasta dishes has to be spaghetti alla puttanesca. Apparently, this dish became popular in the 1960′s but was actually created by mistake in the 1950′s by a man named Sandro Petti, co owner of a well known Ischian restaurant called Rancio Fellone. As the story goes, a group of customers came in one evening when the restaurant was near closing, and Petti told them that he was low on ingredients and could not serve them. The group complained that is was late and they were hungry and suggested ”Facci una puttanata qualsiasi“, which translates to “make a bastardized version of anything”…and so, pasta alla puttanesca was born and subsequently added to his already popular menu.

The basic recipe includes a sauce made of salty items like anchovies, capers and olives tossed with gently caramelized garlic. Diced tomatoes, oregano, ground black pepper are added and then tossed with some fresh parsley. Traditionally, regular or thin spaghetti (vermicelli or angel hair)  is the pasta of choice, but I have even used fettuccine when I want something a little heartier.  I also like to add a little tomato paste to add a depth of flavor to the sauce that I find is missing in the original sauce. if you don’t have fresh parsley on hand, don’t beat yourself up about it — keep some large leaf dried parsley on hand and it does the trick. This is one meal that pleases everyone.

Pasta Puttanesca
1 lb pasta
2 tablespoons salt for pasta water
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 anchovy fillets
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 large tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup black pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon capers, rinsed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried parsley (if using fresh add at the end)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8  teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

This meal comes together very quickly, so makes sure you have all of the components ready to go. Coarsely chop the black (or green) olives and rinsed capers together and set them aside. Add the water and salt to a large pot so that you can cook the pasta while the sauce is cooking at the same time. Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook it until it is al dente — cooked through but with a firm bite and not mushy Grab a large saute pan, add in the 1/2 cup of oil and heat over moderate flame. Add the minced garlic cloves and toss around quickly but be careful not to burn them. Then add in the 4 anchovy fillets and allow them to start melting in the heated pan. Once they are almost melted, add the can of petite diced tomatoes and combine well with the other ingredients in the saute pan. I usually rinse out the can with about 1/4 cup of water (or stock) and add this extra liquid to the pan also, then immediately add in  the tablespoon of tomato paste. Allow this all to simmer together for about a minute or so and then toss in your chopped olives and capers. Add a little fresh ground pepper and taste to make sure that you don’t need any salt. I find that I don’t usually add salt to this dish, but always taste to make sure. Add in the oregano, onion powder and dried parsley, toss together, let it thicken slightly and the sauce is pretty much done.

Getting It On With Pasta Puttanesca,

Getting It On With Pasta Puttanesca,

By this time, your pasta should be ready, so use a pair of tongs and add the pasta directly into the sauce. Add half of the pasta first and toss the sauce over it, then add the remaining pasta and toss again.

Getting It On With Pasta Puttanesca,

It is OK if some of the pasta water is added into the sauce as you are transferring them over from the hot water, this will be quickly absorbed into the pasta and also help the sauce stick to the pasta itself.

Getting It On With Pasta Puttanesca,

Getting It On With Pasta Puttanesca,

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and call it a day…

Getting It On With Pasta Puttanesca,

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