The Adventures of Kitchen Girl

March 23, 2009

Puttanesca Sauce... *my way*

This has to be my most favorite tomato based pasta sauce. I use it on everything from linguine and penne pasta to lasagna and stuffed manicotti. In my next post, I'll show you how *I* make stuffed manicotti using this sauce... but for now, we'll stay focused on the sauce itself.

Puttanesca Sauce gets it's name from the Neopolitan prostitutes who are said to have created the dish "Pasta alla puttanesca." The word puttanesca is derived from puttana, a colloquial term for 'prostitute.' There are several variations of the story on how these women began making this dish. It's been said that the women were always short on time and this dish was both quickly put together and with things most Italians would have on hand in their larder on any given day. Another story suggests that the sauce's fragrance would entice "customers" to come to the brothel.... come for the food, stay for the entertainment, so to speak. Yet another story claims that the sauce was a way for the women to "cover up" the odors of their work... since this sauce tends to be a rather fragrant one.

Regardless of how it got it's name or why the dish was first created... all I can say is that I am so very glad it was. It's simple and and incredibly flavorful. Not often can such a small amount of work put forth something so very delicious. I urge you to try making this at home for yourself sometime and see what I mean. And don't let the anchovies scare you! They have add a wonderful depth to the overall flavor of this sauce, you honestly can't tell there is fish in it.

1 28-oz. canned whole tomatoes, drained (I like Muir Glen best)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives
1 cup green olives
1/3 cup capers, drained and rinsed
1- 1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Handful of chopped fresh basil or Italian parsley

Heat olive oil with garlic and anchovies in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden.

Add the drained tomatoes to the skillet and crush with a fork.

Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, olives, capers, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until your pasta is ready.

Serve immediately over pasta of your choice with a sprinkle of chopped basil or parsley for garnish.

This recipe is enough for 1 pound of pasta, 3-6 servings.

Kitchen Notes:
My recipe calls for more anchovy than most recipes of this volume. I like the flavor they add... but if you don't want to taste anchovy at all, cut the amount used back to 4 fillets.

I use more olives than most recipes and use both black and green along with the capers. If you would rather use all kalamata, feel free. Also, you could use half the amount I use and still have quite a few.

I like my sauce rather spicy... if you want a milder sauce, use a 1/2 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes.

I also like a good handful of freshly grated Parmesan added over top of my plated dish, though I'm told that is not traditional. The whole fish and cheese don't mix thing. Eh.. I never said I was traditional ;)

 Spaghetti alla puttanesca