Pasta alla Puttanesca was allegedly named after the spicy, salty ladies of the night that frequented southern Italy; this is my favorite version of a classic pasta dish that can be rustled up with ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen cupboard, parsley aside (unless like me you chop and freeze quantities of flat leaf parsley).
You can use canned pitted olives but they aren’t as tasty as the pungent Kalamata variety and I recommend using whole anchovy fillets, not the paste.
Because this has such a lively and vibrant sauce, it also works well with whole wheat pasta. I’ve certainly never been given the choice of whole wheat spaghetti in any restaurant in Italy but then I haven’t been there for a few years, so another visit is probably in order.
SPAGHETTI alla PUTTANESCA
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
One 28 oz (78g) can of peeled or chopped tomatoes, crushed
1/2 cup of pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed and halved
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons of rinsed and drained capers
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
14 oz (375g) of spaghetti
4 tablespoons of chopped Italian flat leaf parsley plus a little extra
Plenty of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to serve
Get the water boiling for the spaghetti.
In a wide pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the chopped anchovies along with the garlic until the anchovies have dissolved and the garlic is slightly golden.
Throw in most of the chopped parsley and give everything a good stir; then add the capers, chopped olives, chili flakes and the canned tomatoes, along with all their juice.
Simmer everything for about 10 minutes so that it thickens slightly. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it very quickly and tip it all into the sauté pan with everything else – give it a good mix.
Check for seasoning…you won’t need salt but you may want to add more pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like your puttanesca!
Sprinkle it with some more chopped parsley and serve immediately with plenty of freshly grated Parmigiano to go around.