Pasta alla Puttanesca

pasta alla puttanesca

This dish is fast, sultry, and deeply satisfying. I imagine that those qualities are the reason for its legendary name; in Italian, puttana translates to ‘prostitute’, according to Oxford English Dictionary. Many foodies have great fun with this colorful translation, and the dish is usually served with a wink and a chuckle. Some say the inciting smell of the sauce lured potential customers off the street while others claim the sauce can be prepared quickly, the perfect solution for someone in a hurry. In just about every scenario, love and lust are at the heart of puttanesca sauce.

We may never know the true backstory, but what matters most are the vigorous flavors and simplicity of this sauce. It is very versatile and can be used on pasta, rice, meat, or even as a bruschetta topping. Anchovies are a common ingredient, but the Neapolitan version is made without. The capers and olives provide the rich umami flavor. Enjoy!

Classic Pasta alla Puttanesca

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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This vegetarian version is packed with savory flavors.

Ingredients


– 3 Tablespoons olive oil
– 4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in thin slices
– 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
–  1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
– 2 tablespoons capers
– 1 tablespoon fresh basil, roughly chopped
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 3/4 lb dried pasta or 1 batch fresh pasta– (spaghetti, fettuccine, or tagliatelle are good choices) 
– a few springs of fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
– fine sea salt
– optional: grated Parmesan cheese


Directions


1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and add garlic. Cook on low heat for a minute or two until garlic is fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes, olives, capers, brine, and herbs. Turn up the heat to simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes until it thickens up a bit. Salt to taste.
2. Meanwhile, bring salted pasta water to a boil and cook pasta as indicated on the package. If using fresh pasta, cook for 4 minutes.
3. When pasta is al dente, drain and add directly to sauce. Heat the pasta and sauce, stirring gently for 5 minutes.  This will allow the pasta to soak up the sauce. 
4. Spoon everything onto a serving platter and sprinkle generously with chopped parsley. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on the side. Be sure to have some sliced Italian bread to sop up the sauce.
Buon appetito!


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