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Benvenuti al Tutti!

Welcome to Luigi's Tastes of Italy

This blog is my small dedication to Italian cooking, and is abolutely 100% free of pretentiousness, complicated ingredients, or any effort to present Italian cuisine as anything other than it really is, very simple.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and maybe trying out some of the recipes.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Pasta Puttanesca (Spicey Tomato Sauce)

I have no idea why this pasta is called Puttanesca. The word in Italian, actually infers "lady of the night", or a "whore", in more simple terms.

Putting aside such sinister thoughts though. I imagine it might just be named so, because the sauce is hot and spicy, a bit like the percieved personality of those involved in that type of "business". 

In any case, whatever the real reason for the strange name, this is an absolutely delicious, easy to make sauce.

Really if you ever wanted the definition for fast food, forget about your McDonalds, or your Pizza takeout, this is where the actions is most definitely at: Pasta.

The beauty of this dish, is that the time taken to boil the water, and cook the pasta, is the same amout of time required to make the sauce. In other words less than 12 minutes. Perfect!

I am now going to mention a dirty word to many, and that is the word, Anchovy. To my mind, this wonderful ingredient has been forever tainted by the cheap local pizza places.  Who mindlessy throw poor quality anchovys onto the tops of pizza, pass them off as being Italian, and leave everyone with an inquenchable thirst, and vile fishy salty mouth for days, after the experience.

Used judiciously however, it can be a beautiful thing atop a pizza. Thats another story.

Personally speaking though, we generally use anchovy as an ingredient, where it adds a huge amount of flavour, without giving away its identity.  No really, cooked in a sauce such as this, you really won't be able to detect anything fishy or salty, I promise, just a nice flavour. So I would say, even if you detest anchovy, give it a try.

Another foul word for many, is the word Caper! These days they seem to be thrown into a whole manner of recipes. Wether they suit it, or not.

To be honest where I have tried them in sauces paired with delicate white fish. I have found them to be far to overpowering. However in this recipe, they work. They are paired with equally strong flavour hitters, such as anchovy, tomatoes, and chilli, so they just balance out beautifully. Trust me.


450g (approx 14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes, or feel free to use fresh tomatoes, but de-seed first,
2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced, or crushed into a paste,
1 anchovy fillet,
1 pepperoncini diced, or 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 tbsp capers (if dried, salted ones, rinse first) chopped small
70-80g (3oz) black olives, pitted, sliced in half
300-400g (approx 12oz) spaghetti, or a pasta of your choice,
1 tablespoon of olive oil


-Put plenty of water, in a large deep pan, add plenty of salt and put over a high heat.

- In a deep sided frying pan, add the olive oil and place over a medium heat, once up to temperature, add the anchovy, and the garlic.  You will find the anchovy melts away into the oil.  Gently heat the garlic until golden.

- Next add the capers, and the pepperoncini, gently fry for a minute or so, and then add the chopped tomatoes, and black olives, reduce the heat slightly.

-By this time the water for the spaghetti should be upto a boil, add the spaghetti and cook for around 6-8 minutes, until slightly firm, but cooked.  There is nothing worse, than soggy spaghetti, so don't overcook it.

-Drain the pasta, and add the spaghetti (or other pasta) to the frying pan, toss over well and serve while hot.

Generally we have this with Spaghetti, but it could also be enjoyed with another pasta shape of your choice. As can be seen in my portion below, Italians generally do not go "crazy" with the sauce. We don't want to drown the pasta, enough to cover the pasta is usually considered satisfactory, often with a little extra over the top.

This can be just eaten as it is, but you could if you so wished serve with freshly grated parmesan, or even chopped parsley added to the sauce before serving. Enjoy!


Mari said...

HAHA I love the fact that this pasta means "lady of the night" hahahaha...

You know how I feel about Anchovy lol but perhaps it IS because I have eaten it on pizza and it was poor quality...I will try to keep an open mind =)

literarygeek said...

I LOVE anchovies and capers! Sounds fab!

Chow and Chatter said...

wow love this could you use smoked trout?

love your blog and the simplicity of good Italian cooking

Merry Christmas


Lady Boheme said...

Hello Luigi, excellent food, spaghetti alla puttanesca are my passion! A warm greeting and good wishes you happy holidays!

Reneé DeLano said...

Pasta looks great!

Joanne said...

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes! ANd I can tell you where the name came from. Rumor has it that the ladies of the night used to make this pasta to lure clients into their houses. Anchovies and spicy foods are aphrodisiacs. And there you go!

Merry Christmas Luigi!

And I could never get sick of pumpkin. There are just so many different ways to prepare it that it never tastes the same. Similarly with pasta dishes.

Fausta said...

Ottimo piatto!! Buon Natale :)

Kim said...

Pasta is the real fast food! I definitely agree ;D I've never made a puttanesca sauce, but it does sound delicious and I'm not afraid of the anchovies! Have a wonderful Christmas!

Tania said...

I love puttanesca pasta!
Merry Christmas Luigi!

Velva said...

I have this sauce on my list to make....I take your word about the anchovy only adding flavor but, not adding anything fishy or real salty. Now, capers? I love capers and think it is a wonderful addition to this spicy, hot sauce.
Your blog post about Puttanesca sauce is proof that simple is best.

Happy New Year to you and your family. I am looking forward to reading your blog posts in 2010.

Erica said...

That sauce sounds delicious! Great flavors! Happy new year!

Tania said...

Happy new year!

Sana said...

What an interesting name...

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