A well-made puttanesca sauce can be one of the most intensely flavorful of all the types of sauces in Italian cuisine. The recipe I have for you today is quick, inexpensive, and contains easy to find ingredients. The combination of olives, capers, garlic, hot pepper flakes and anchovies (don't panic! See below for more on this critical ingredient), makes for an unforgettable sauce.
Best of all, you'll easily be able to make this dish in 20-25 minutes from start to finish.
Of course this dish takes its name from uh, ladies of the night. Depending on whose history you prefer, either this was a dish prostitutes would offer to entice customers into brothels, or it was an easy and cheap meal that prostitutes could prepare between customers. Let's just leave that subject right there, shall we? Ever since my inappropriate discussion on stiffly beaten egg whites, I've been trying to keep this blog more G-rated.
The entire dish should cost around $7-8 to make and it serves 5-6 easily. That may not quite qualify for laughably cheap, but it's pretty close. Furthermore, this is a dish that scales quite easily, so you can certainly double the recipe for larger dinner groups.
One final comment on anchovies. If you don't like them, fear not. Laura can't even sit in the same room with an anchovy, yet she absolutely loves this dish. Do not leave them out.
3 28-ounce cans whole plum tomatoes
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon oregano
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup small or medium olives (can use oil-cured olives or canned olives, depending on how "casual" you want to be), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
8 or so anchovy fillets (buy one small tin of anchovies in oil)
Pasta (linguine or fettucine usually works best here)
Combine tomatoes in olive oil in a deep pan or large sauce pan. Turn heat up to medium high. Chop up the tomatoes coarsely with the spatula as shown below. [Note: some puttanesca purists will say drain the juices and strain out the seeds, but that is a lot of work and thus Casual Kitchen says just go with the tomatoes and juices as they come out of the can.]
Then, add each of the other ingredients one by one as the sauce comes to a boil.
Once you've added all the ingredients and the sauce is beginning to boil, turn down the heat to medium low. Let the sauce simmer and thicken for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.
Ladle sauce liberally onto pasta and serve immediately!
First, let's take a quick look at a photo of all the ingredients you'll need.
Notice the seemingly extraneous glass of wine. Although this recipe doesn't include wine as a specific ingredient, we have seen before that a glass of wine serves critical functions for the chef, both as an analgesic and a mood-lifter.
Use the spatula to break up the tomatoes into coarse chunks. You'll probably want to at least quarter every tomato, even the smaller ones. Proceed carefully with this part of the recipe, and do not wear white.
I usually pour the capers into a small strainer and then run cold water over theme to rinse them. After that, you can drop the little guys straight into the pan.
Add each of the other ingredients one by one. In goes the garlic!
If you either loathe or fear anchovies, or if they gross you out in any way, skip the next two pictures. But DO NOT LEAVE THEM OUT OF THIS RECIPE. They are an absolutely critical element of the overall flavor of the sauce. Remember, even though Laura claims she cannot sit in the same room with an anchovy, she still loves this dish.
Chop up the anchovies into smallish pieces, maybe the size of an aspirin tablet or smaller. You'll want them to disintegrate in the boiling sauce.
Okay--anchovy haters may now look again....
Bring the sauce to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally:
Ladle onto your pasta. A wide/flat pasta like linguine or fettucine works well for this dish, but honestly any type of pasta is fine.
Literacy alert! I'll give away a free gift subscription to Casual Kitchen for any person who leaves a comment naming the author and poem that's excerpted in the picture above. :) Good luck!
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