There are many theories when it comes to today’s recipe, Pasta alla Puttanesca, whether in its origin or the story behind its name. Some (many celebrity chefs in the UK) would say that Pasta alla Puttanesca means the way a whore would make it! But my Italian friends will tell you that the name behind this dish refers to the contrasting mix of flavours and ingredients that make it up!
“Che puttanata” in Italian basically means “what a mess!”. This is in reference to the sauce, the sugo alla puttanesca, as if no thought went into making it, just a “let’s chuck in whatever we can find” approach. Hence the name: pasta or spaghetti alla puttanesca, a pasta dish whose sauce is, essentially, a mess! You know, like something you’d put together from whatever was at hand, without actual planning – that’s what this pasta really means! Don’t believe everything a celebrity chef tells you!
As with any much loved and treasured recipe, this one has variations depending on the cook. Some leave out the anchovies altogether, some use fresh tomatoes while others won’t even think about using chillies. Cooking, like eating, is a very personal and subjective pastime, so you make it the way you like it, without changing the foundation. I love anchovies and I certainly love my chillies, so you’ll find both these in my sugo alla puttanesca. You can adjust the amount of chilli or chilli flakes in the recipe or do without it altogether if you’re not a fan.
You might fancy checking out my Italian page here and my Mediterranean Mélange collection on Google+.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- half a fresh red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced or half a tsp of chilli flakes
- 8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry if in brine
- 1 tbsp capers, rinsed if salted and chopped roughly
- 100g black pitted olives, sliced or halved
- 1 can of 400g chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- small handful parsley, chopped
- 400g pasta of your choice, cooked according to packet instructions, usually 8-10 mins
- Bring a large saucepan of water to boil for the pasta, adding a heaped tsp of salt in.
- Heat the olive oil in another large saucepan or deep frying pan on medium heat. Add the garlic, chilli and anchovies. Fry for a couple of minutes, the anchovies will fall apart during this time.
- Add the olives, capers and tomatoes and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat until the sauce has thickened.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the pot of boiling water until the al dente stage, according to packet instructions, usually about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the drained pasta to the sauce, toss and serve sprinkled with parsley and freshly ground black pepper.