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Pasta Puttanesca is definitely a recipe that you want to keep on your dinner menu rotation! It's not only quick to make, but it is tasty and light, but filling.
The story behind Pasta Puttanesca
Obviously, this is an Italian dish and as with many Italian dishes, there's a story that accompanies it. This one has several different versions, but they all have to do with a certain unsavory career choice.
I think the most popular one has to do with ladies of the night, as we say. The word "puttanesca" in Italian is just such a woman. The story is that this dish is so quick to make that she could whip it up between "customers". Another story is that the establishment would be cooking this dish enticing "customers" to follow the aromas. They got more than they bargained for!
Whatever the story is, the aroma of this dish will certainly be enticing and you should absolutely enjoy it!
The sauce IS the dish. The pasta is just a vehicle.
The main ingredients are black Italian olives, garlic, anchovies, capers, red pepper, and oregano. How can you go wrong with that start?
Put some oil in a heated pot and add the garlic and anchovies. The anchovies will basically melt into the oil and garlic and the fragrance in the air is amazing. And don't hit me with "I don't like anchovies"! If I told you how many dishes have anchovies or fish sauce in them, you'd never believe me. They add a flavor that enhances other flavors ... kind of like putting vanilla extract in a chocolate dessert.
What kind of olives should I use?
The tomatoes are important.
Be sure to use a quality brand. I love the Jovial brand from Italy. They are delicious and come in jars rather than cans. You can find this brand almost anywhere, but I order them from Thrive Market. Use THIS CODE and get 30% off your first order!
Put the tomatoes in whole then break them up with a spoon. Mix everything together and let it cook for about 10 minutes or for as long as it takes the pasta to cook.
How to serve Pasta Puttanesca
Take the pasta out of the boiling water when it is almost done and put it directly into the pot with the sauce. Mix it well, then serve in pasta plates with plenty of sauce, some parsley, and a twirling spoon. Mangia!
- olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic chopped small
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1/2 cup black Italian olives, pitted and chopped small or kalamata
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons capers
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red chili flakes I love Calabrian chiles in this dish!
- 2-3 cups peeled, whole canned tomatoes
- 12-16 ounces pasta spaghetti or linguine are most traditional
- chopped parsley to garnish
- Heat a large skillet over medium-medium high heat. Add the olive oil, then quickly add the garlic and anchovies. Be sure not to brown the garlic as it will become bitter. The anchovies will melt right into the garlic as you stir.
- Add the pitted and chopped olives and the capers. Stir to combine. Add the oregano and cayenne or red pepper flakes. I usually only add ½ a teaspoon of hot pepper at first. Then I taste again after I've added the tomatoes and usually will add the rest.
- Add the whole, peeled tomatoes, crushing them with a spoon. Cook for 10-15 minutes while the pasta is cooking.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until it is almost done. Drain and transfer to the large skillet with the sauce. Stir to combine and to allow the pasta to finish cooking.
- Serve with chopped parsley.