Puttanesca party in my mouth

Every Sunday when I put together our meal plans for the week, I ask Jeremy if he wants anything in particular. For whatever reason, instead of hearing my request for something that he might want specifically,  he always seems to hear “name every kind of food you’ve ever heard of.” I don’t usually make anything he mentions.

But this past week when I asked him, he just said, matter-of-factly “plan ol’ spaghetti.” OK, that I can do. Or can I?…….

I had a recipe from one of my last issues of Everyday Food (the now defunct, monthly, food-only, small-format magazine put together by the people at Martha Stewart – it now lives on as a small insert with her monthly Living magazine) that I really wanted to try. The recipe was for how to make your own basic marinara sauce, then on the back side of the page it had several different add-in combinations that would make your sauce something amazing, beyond basic marinara. Ie – add diced celery, carrots, onions and ground sausage – bam, you’ve got Bolognese.

One of the options was to add three small ingredients: anchovies, kalamata olives, and capers. And bam – Puttanesca.

Puttanesca

Almost everything you need to be Italian. Or at least to make Puttanesca.

Almost everything you need to be Italian. Or at least to make Puttanesca.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 anchovy filets
  • 3 tbs capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives, quartered
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes, pureed
  • Pasta of your choice

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan and add the garlic, stirring until fragrant, then add the onion; sautee until very soft, 15 minutes. 
  2. Add the anchovies and mash with the back of a wooden spoon while stirring into the onions. Add the capers, olives and red pepper and cook an additional minute or two, until warmed through.
  3. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and heat until thickened, 10 minutes or so.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta (I used whole wheat, thin spaghetti) according to the box, but drain it one minute before it’s ‘al dente’ and add the drained pasta into the sauce and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes until the pasta is tender and the dish is warmed through. Serve immediately with crusty bread and good olive oil.

And for those of you who don’t normally buy anchovies or don’t use them regularly, you will probably (like me) wonder what you do with the other dozen anchovies in the tin? Well, I researched it and according to many reputable websites, Italians store anchovies, packed in olive oil, on their counters all the time – they don’t even have to be refrigerated because they are so cured. But since I’m an American, I put the left over anchovies into a small glass container, covered with olive oil from the tin and my own, and then put it safely in my refrigerator. Apparently they are totally fine like that for months.  In this case, the fate of these anchovies is already determined for another fantastic recipe I have for tapenade, which I will happily share with you once I create it. It’s probably in my top five favorite things I make. And if you are scared of anchovies – don’t be. What they add is saltiness and oiliness. The flavor is subtle and if I never told you they were in there, you wouldn’t know. Don’t be afraid. Embrace their little, tiny deliciousness.

anchovies will keep,packed in olive oil, for months in the fridge

anchovies will keep,packed in olive oil, for months in the fridge

This dish was amazing. So simple, really, but so flavorful and it filled that desire for “plain ol’ spaghetti” but with a kick in the pants. Good suggestion, Jeremy . . .

 

 

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