Mistakenly, the first time we typed out the title of this post, we wrote Pasta Puttansexca. A total Freudian slip. Because, yes, this puttanesca sauce is that good. Or better. Also puttanesca is named for old-time Italian whores and was a dish they would, so the story goes, whip up between clients.
We were inspired to make this recently, as we were reading the novel Belong To Me, by Marisa De Los Santos (we highly recommend it, by the way) with a scene that described Puttanesca in all its savory, olive-oily, capery goodness. And the next day we had to run to the store and buy the ingredients.
It's so, SO fantastic, we were scraping the edges of the skillet with our fingers and licking off the sauce. Crude, we know. But true.
We adapted this recipe from Epicurious. We've tried a few others and this is our favorite. Epicurious gets the proportions just right.
We beg you to give this a try. And don't fear the anchovy paste. It gives the sauce a depth that you just can't accomplish without it.
Rating: Truly 1/2 assed
Here's what you need and how you do it
1 pound pasta, dried
1/3 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, pressed or minced very finely
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted (Trader Joes has a great deal on these)
2 Tablespoons capers, drained
Pinch of sugar (or two, optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Lots of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Cook pasta according to package directions until just al dente.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, toss the olive oil, garlic, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt until fragrant and pale golden.
Add tomatoes, olives and capers to garlic oil. Simmer, stirring occasionally. Add sugar if desired.
Toss with cooked pasta and top with fresh basil.
For a printable version of this recipe, click here.