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This is a fairly recent recipe in Italian cooking dating to mid-twentieth century. It is said to have started because a cook had only 4 tomatoes, 2 olives and some capers to feed some very hungry guys late at night in his restaurant. The recipe has evolved to include anchovies and sometimes peppers which is similar to what I do here.
Pasta Puttanesca Topped with Parsley
Pasta Puttanesca Topped with Parsley
It is very easy to make and the sauce is made while the pasta is cooking. So this could become one of your favorite weeknight meals but will not be just something you throw on the table. The flavors are so intense it always makes you feel like you are eating something special. So let's get going!
  • 6 oz spaghetti
  • Note - You can also use any kind of pasta here that you want but it is typically made with spaghetti and if not that then linguini or angel hair. It is sometimes also made with other forms of pasta like penne.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 t anchovy paste or 2 anchovy filets
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tomatoes from one large can San Marzano or other whole tomatoes
  • Note - I use 4 but I like my pasta under sauced. And I do not use the juices from the can but I do put the tomatoes in whole so all the juice from the inside of the tomato is included. And when I scoop them out of the can I'm not all that careful about how much sauce comes with them. And San Marzano tomatoes are worth it here.
  • 1/2 c kalamata olives, chopped in half
  • Note - I use kalamata olives because I like them and the saltiness and depth of flavor that they bring. This is most always made with dark olives, not green olives, but you can use any kind of Italian dark olive that you like. Many people prefer oil cured olives for this but again, that is a matter of taste preference. Do not use plain canned black olives, it will not be the same.
  • 1 T capers, drained
  • Salt to taste
  • Note - Do taste it before you add any salt to this dish. The olives and capers carry a lot of salt with them so you really shouldn't need any.
  • chopped fresh parsley as a garnish (optional)
  • freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
1.  Make sure you have all your ingredients chopped and measured before we start as this is going to go rather quickly and you don't want to be doing that as you go with this recipe.
Getting the Ingredients Ready to Go
Getting the Ingredients Ready to Go
2.  Add enough water to a sauce pan to cook the pasta.
3.  Place the pan on the stove over high heat and bring the water to a boil.
4.  Add the pasta to the water and stir occasionally.
5.  Once the pasta is in the water, add the olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes and anchovies to a sauce pan or fry pan and cook over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Do not brown the garlic.
Garlic, Pepper Flakes and Anchovie Paste in Olive Oil
Garlic, Pepper Flakes and Anchovie Paste in Olive Oil
6.  Add the tomatoes to the pan to stop the garlic from frying and mix in the tomatoes with the garlic and oil. Break up the tomatoes and let them cook for a minute.
Add Tomatoes to Sauteed Garlic
Add Tomatoes to Sauteed Garlic
7.  Add the olives and capers to the pan and cook the sauce at a slow simmer over low heat while the pasta is cooking.
Add Olives and Capers
Add Olives and Capers
Gently Cooking the Sauce
Gently Cooking the Sauce
8.  Once the pasta is done, using tongs add it to the sauce, toss it with the sauce, and let it continue to cook for a few more minutes. You don't have to toss it with the sauce, but if you don't, make sure the pasta is cooked before serving it on plates and topping with the sauce.
Add the Pasta to the Sauce
Add the Pasta to the Sauce
Toss the Pasta with the Sauce
Toss the Pasta with the Sauce
9.  Place the pasta in bowls or on plates and spoon the remaining sauce evenly over the top.
Pasta in a Bowl with Sauce on Top
Pasta in a Bowl with Sauce on Top
Top it with a little freshly chopped flat leaf parsley and serve it with grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano on the top or on the side for those who want to add it. And you can serve it with a nice loaf of garlic bread and a light green salad for a perfect meal. Enjoy!
Pasta Puttanesca with Parsley and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Pasta Puttanesca with Parsley and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Recipe Yield: Serves 2
Prep Active: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
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