Friday, January 28, 2011

Spaghetti Puttanesca

My sister called to tell me that she made this yesterday. She reminded me that I made it for them often when they used to come over to visit. She also reminded me how much I love this easy dish. It is so fast, it can be prepared while the pasta is cooking. This is a delicious meal that can be on the table in 15 minutes. Seriously.

Puttanesca sauce was apparently created when an Italian chef threw together whatever ingredients he had left at the end of the evening to create a pasta sauce for the "women of the night". Or, so it is told. Whatever the case, it is a great way to use up my canned tomatoes and anything else that happens to be lurking in the fridge!
Apparently there are endless versions of what to put into this sauce- oregano, peppers, anchovies and tuna are ingredients that could make an appearance in an Italian Puttanesca. My recipe must always have capers or it isn't worth making. I love the salty, briny taste of capers, so I always have a jar in the fridge. They last a long time refridgerated, so be sure to use the leftover capers blended into creamy salad dressings or tossed into pasta salads.

My version is always vegetarian, adding a touch more sea salt and more capers to replace the saltiness of the traditional anchovies. Currently, this is strictly an adult dish in our home right now as I am not inclined to reduce the amount of spicy crushed red peppers. I usually take out a big ladle of spaghetti out for the kids and add butter and parmesan to their portion. One day, they will love this but for now they happily slurp up their own favourite version of spaghetti.

Spaghetti Puttanesca- Basic Vegetarian Version
Serves 4-6.
Rating: EASY
This would be delicious with roasted veggies- especially some roasted red or green peppers. We like this recipe just the way it is, but if you like very saucy pasta, you could double the sauce. Can be made vegan without the cheese.

1 450 g whole wheat spaghetti (reserve 1/4 cup cooking water)

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more if you like spice!
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced, and mixed with 2 tbsp water
1- 796 ml can diced tomatoes or 3/4 of a 1 L jar of home canned tomatoes
1- 200 ml can sliced black olives
4 tbsp capers in brine, drained
1/3 cup italian parlsey, chopped, plus more for serving
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving

1. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water according to al dente directions, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water before draining.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. When warmed, add crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Do not let brown.
3. Add garlic in water to the oil, and let cook for a minute or two or until water evaporates.
4. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until pasta is nearly cooked.
5. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Add pasta water, olives, caper, parsley and cheese to tomato sauce. Toss with hot pasta. Serve with extra cheese and parsley.