Recipe – Spicy Penne Pasta Puttanesca
Whenever my wife is on call at the hospital, I usually use it as an opportunity to eat things that are either:
a.) Incredibly bad for my health
b.) Very meaty and delicious
c.) Very strong in flavor
d.) All of the above
While the aforementioned call was in effect last night, I went against my cravings for a Benito’s Pizza and opted to cook myself something from category “c,” a Spicy Penne Pasta Puttanesca.
The beautiful thing about this dish is that you can make it at any time of the year because it’s made with a sugo alla puttanesca sauce. From what I’ve learned, Puttanesca a modern sauce, that is particularly useful because it’s not dependent upon seasonal ingredients, which means you can rely on what’s in your cupboard or local market shelf rather than the garden.
Apparently the name comes from prostitutes from Naples, who would place cooked pots of the sauce in the windows of bordellos to entice the men to come inside. I can see why the name stuck, because the aromas in this dish are certainly enticing, especially if you’re big on garlic. I LOVE my version of this Italian dish. Check it out.
- 1/2 cup brine-cured black olives, pitted and cut into slivers (you can use Kalamata olives to)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 3 to 4 anchovy fillets finely chopped (go with the ones packed in oil)
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
- 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (unfortunately I only had curly)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, preferably “no salt added” (the olives and anchovy paste will add plenty of flavor, believe me)
- 8 ounces Penne or whatever pasta you choose (I just prefer Penne)
- Grated Parmesan to taste
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to directions. I strongly recommend you make your pasta al dente. It adds a wonderful dimension to the dish.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, olives and red pepper flakes, stirring until garlic is golden and fragrant, about a minute and a half. Add the parsley, capers, anchovy and oregano to your skillet, and saute for 2 minutes more. Follow this up quickly with your tomatoes – which you should simmer for about 5 minutes more to allow all the flavors to marry.
3. When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the skillet, tossing it with the sauce to combine. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
When you’re done, you’ll have an incredibly spicy, full-of-flavor meal that’s quite hearty and heavy on the aromatics. I think my kitchen still smells like Puttanesca, which should torture Rafiki and my wife when she returns home around noon.
I served myself a generous portion of Tomato, Bean and Mozzarella Caprese (recipe coming in a day or two) and a glass of red wine to accompany my pasta. A fantastic meal that I almost wish I would have saved until Vita was home to enjoy. But, you can make some amazing stuff with the leftovers from this dish as well. Aren’t leftovers great?