Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bare Bones II: alla Puttanesca

   Want something tangy, tomato-y and tasty...all in short order? Try Spaghetti all Puttanesca. (Translation: Sauce of the Whore.)  I'd read that this pasta dish got its name for its ease of preparation -- that prostitutes, tired after their night's work, could mix and cook it quickly on a small fire.

Wikipedia has a different story:
    In a 2005 article from Il Golfo—a daily newspaper serving the Italian islands of Ischia and Procida—Annarita Cuomo asserted that sugo alla puttanesca was invented in the 1950s by Sandro Petti, co-owner of Rancio Fellone, a famous Ischian restaurant and nightspot.[5] According to Cuomo...near closing one evening—Petti found a group of customers sitting at one of his tables. He was low on ingredients and so told them he didn't have enough to make them a meal. They complained that it was late and they were hungry. "Facci una puttanata qualsiasi," or "Make any kind of garbage," they insisted.a[›] Petti had nothing more than four tomatoes, two olives and some capers—the basic ingredients for the sugo, “So I used them to make the sauce for the spaghetti,” Petti told Cuomo. Later, Petti included this dish on his menu as spaghetti alla puttanesca.

Anchovies are a must; so are plenty of garlic, onion, and chopped peppers. You can improvise with the rest. Try this version from And think of all the smirking you can do while serving it.

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 4 anchovy fillets (chopped)
  • 1 small red chili (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons capers (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 tin black olives (pitted, quartered)
  •   1 can (approx. 15 oz)  tomatoes (chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flatleaf parsley (fresh, chopped) 

     Cook a pound package of spaghetti in boiling water. While it's cooking, slowly saute the rest of the ingredients (except parsley) in three or four tablespoons of olive oil. (Omit the salt, if you like -- this dish is plenty salty as-is.)  Add parsley to the sauce just before serving. Pile the spaghetti on a platter, and spoon the sauce over top. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan or Romano cheese. (Serves 4.) 

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