Monday, February 28, 2011

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, Whore's Spaghetti

There appears to be debate about the origin of the dish. I enjoy best the idea that it was made by prostitutes so that the aroma would drift out their open windows and attract passers-by.

This sauce has a ton of flavor from the additions of Kalamata olives, capers, garlic, red chile flakes and anchovies. With all of my harping about cooking with ingredients rather than processed foodlike products, this recipe relies pretty strongly on preserved things; salted, brined, canned, dried. Arguably not even the garlic is fresh. But the result is fresh and lively tasting. It's also a great simmer sauce for chicken or salmon.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

olive oil
a few anchovies
as much garlic as you like, more is better, minced
a handful of Kalamata olives, pitted
a couple of tablespoons of capers
a jar of the simplest tomato based pasta sauce you can buy (least amount of ingredients)
red chile flakes to taste
1 pound dried spaghetti

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a non-reactive skillet. Iron can react with the acidity of the tomatoes lending off flavors and colors. @cpkimball's folks have done tests indicating that a short cooking period in a well-seasoned pan should be fine but I have made some funky tasting oddly colored dishes in iron and now have relegated it to frying. I usually start everything with 1 tablespoon of fat or oil to keep the calories in check but if I am cooking for company, I usually bump it up to 2 tablespoons.

Add the anchovies and cooking, stirring to break them up, until they sort of disintegrate. Add the olives (you can chop, them slice them or leave them more or less whole), capers and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is aromatic but not yet burnt.

Add the pasta sauce and stir to combine the ingredients. Add red chile flakes to taste. When the sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain and mix some of the sauce into the pasta. Turn the pasta out into a bowl and top with remaining sauce and lots of freshly grated grating cheese of your choice.


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