Pasta Puttanesca is more of a combination of flavors than a recipe. It’s very much a winter dish for me, one that I almost always have all the ingredients for, which is good because its strong salty/briny tomato-ey flavor is one that can induce sudden cravings.
I like my puttanesca on the lighter side. I don’t use canned tomatoes, or paste, I use fresh, no matter what the season, and I only cook the sauce briefly. The tomatoes I had in sitting in my big wooden bowl on the counter were nothing to write home about. When I chopped them up the color was more pinkish than rich red. But it doesn’t really matter, they get cooked down a bit in this dish and will release their sweetness and give the pasta a nice fruitiness that canned tomatoes just can’t. The pitted Kalamata olives I used were from a jar, if I had thought ahead I would have bought fresh from the olive bar or a specialty store, but again, it doesn’t really matter. Just make sure you use flavorful black olives, don’t buy the kind that make good finger puppets.
One last thing, don’t leave out the anchovies. They actually will break down and melt into the oil as soon as they heat up, so you won’t even know they’re there, and the flavor and aroma is unmistakable. Fresh parsley is also important. I like my Puttanesca with whole grain or whole wheat thin spaghetti, and an unorthodox sprinkling of pine nuts on top.
- 12 oz whole grain or whole wheat thin spaghetti cooked al dente
- olive oil
- 1 red onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- oil packed anchovies chopped (I used just 3, use as many or as little as you like)
- 4 medium to large fresh tomatoes chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
- 1 cup rough chopped pitted black olives
- 1/3 cup dry white wine or pasta water
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- salt and fresh pepper
- aged cheese for garnish Parmesan, Romano, I used aged provolone
- Coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil and saute the onion, garlic and anchovies on medium heat until the onions are translucent. Don't brown them. The anchovies will immediately melt into the oil and give you a great aroma.
- Add in the tomatoes, olives and red pepper flakes. Heat to a simmer and add in 1/3 cup dry white wine. (If you don't want to use wine, use some of the cooking water from the pasta at the end to thin the sauce) Simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the sauce melds together. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the pasta to al dente, and add it to the sauce pot along with the parsley, tossing really well.
- Serve the pasta with pines nuts and grated cheese.