One variation of the origin of this sauce is that the ‘ladies of the evening’ would make this dish and place it on the window sill hoping the aromas would lure in customers. This version is the one I’ve seen written on several restaurant menus for this dish.
A simple sauce to make, Puttanesca is also very flexible. The basis of this sauce is its spicy and salty flavors. Use the olives you prefer and you can eliminate the anchovy. In some restaurants you can ask to have the anchovy eliminated (which is what grampy does), but some restaurants already have the sauce made with the anchovy.
Puttanesca sauce is usually served with spaghetti or angel hair pasta. I decided to use the Dreamfields Rotini shape which is a nice foil for gripping the olives and capers. Dreamfields pasta is a good choice for those who are watching their carb intake.
Here’s an easy recipe that my mom passed down to us. You can start the sauce while the pasta water boils. In 30 minutes dinner is ready and this is one sauce you can prepare in advance if you know your week will be hectic.
- 1 box spaghetti (I used Dreamfields Rotini)
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 -5 anchovy fillets or use 2-4 teaspoons anchovy paste
- ¼ to ½ tsp. chili pepper flakes
- 3 TBLS. olive oil
- 1 28oz.can San Marzano crushed tomatoes (or whatever tomatoes you have)
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved (or use your favorite olives)
- ½ cup pitted green olives, halved
- 2-4 tsp. drained capers
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2-4 TBLS. chopped basil
- Bring pot of water to boil and add salt.
- In a large saute pan heat 2 the olivie oil and add in the chopped garlic and onions. Saute until onions are translucent and the garlic is just lightly golden. Add in the anchovies and gently stir them into the onion mixture. They will break up a little and eventually melt into the sauce.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes and continue to cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally to be sure the onion/anchovy mixture blends.
- Stir in olives, capers and red pepper flakes, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally while the pasta cooks.
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
- Drain pasta and save the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the sauce in a large bowl, adding in the chopped parsley and basil. Stir well. If the sauce is too thick add in a scoop of pasta water and stir well.
- Taste for additional seasonings as needed. Add grated parmagiano reggiano cheese if you like.
This sauce is spicy and salty from the anchovy, capers and olives so be sure to taste the sauce before adding additional seasonings.
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