This easy, one-skillet penne alla puttanesca, is the kind of hearty pasta we often crave on a cold winter night. It is a dish with bold, assertive flavors, that can be ready in just half an hour.
The dish–with its racy name (“Prostitute’s pasta”)–has its origins in Naples in the Campagna region of Italy. Legend has it that the “ladies of the night” would make this spicy, pungent and highly aromatic dish to attract clients passing by. Others believe that this legend is highly inaccurate, and the name simply refers to the “kitchen sink”of cupboard ingredients that are thrown into this very flavorful sauce.
Either way, nothing can beat the convenience of these simple pantry ingredients: canned tomatoes, garlic, capers, anchovies, olives and red pepper flakes. A quick sauté of the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes provides a sharp base for the tomato sauce. The addition of water to the tomato sauce provides enough liquid for the pasta to cook in the same skillet as the sauce. Quick and convenient and very little cleanup, I hope you give this recipe a try–you won’t be disappointed!
- 3 small cans of whole peeled tomatoes with their juices (15oz. each)
- 4 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil
- 6 med. cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil, minced
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 2 cups of water, room temperature
- 12 oz. small size penne or thin spaghetti
- ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted & chopped coarse
- 2-3 TBSP. small capers, rinsed well
- 4 TBSP. fresh parsley, minced
- --- more sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- --- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Place the tomatoes with their juices in a food processor and pulse several times until they are coarsely ground (or more if you prefer a smoother sauce).
- Place a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes, and cook for two minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant but not browned. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- To the sauce, add the water and then the pasta. Increase the heat to medium-high and cover the skillet. Stir the pasta every now and then, and adjust the heat if necessary so as to maintain a vigorous simmer (but not boil). Cook until the pasta is al-dente (cooked through, but still firm), about 10-12 minutes, depending on the kind of pasta.
- When the pasta is done, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the olives, capers and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve on warm plates with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
The recipe is adapted from "Cook's Illustrated" magazine.
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