Spaghetti Puttanesca sounds dirty. Turns out, it is! Not the dish, that is delicious, but the name. There are a bunch of stories about how the dish came about. Every story seems to agree on three things. Naples as the home of the sauce, sometime in the mid-twentieth century for the time frame of invention and prostitutes. Either the ladies made this highly fragrant sauce to lure in customers or the sauce smells like the docks or…well, then the stories get kind of ugly so we’ll stop there.
The sauce is delicious but very strong. And if you don’t like anchovies or just don’t want to deal with them, leave them out. I think the olives and the capers and the crushed red peppers are key here. Just make sure to salt up the pasta water and you should be fine. When I made it, I put in the anchovies and didn’t salt the pasta water but next time I will salt the pasta water and leave out the anchovies. Especially since when I tried to eat it the next day all I smelled were little fishies and I did not like that.
And since it’s my meal I get to decide. You can do what you want. If you are vegan you probably already know that this is a great dish (when you leave out the anchovies). I drank half a bottle of red wine (the bottle literally said, ‘Red Blend’ on it, there could have been Kool-Aide in there) while I made it and then ate a huge bowl by myself.
It was great. I like eating alone. I like eating with people I love but there’s something meditative (probably the closest I come to meditating) about eating a yummy meal with only myself as company.
Anyway, make it. It was delicious and pretty easy, especially if you leave out the little fishes.
The recipe is based on Cook’s Country Spaghetti Puttanesca but I changed a few thing because I didn’t have oregano.
- 1 pound dried spaghetti (I used linguini because that is what I had)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (I used those frozen cubes)
- 8 anchovy fillets, diced (comes out to about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
- 3 tablespoons drained and rinsed capers
- Salt and pepper, if desired
- Fresh oregano (I used basil since I didn’t have oregano)
- Cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente.
- While pasta boils, cook garlic, anchovies, red-pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes.
- If you want you can puree your tomatoes. I pureed one can but left the rest in whole pieces.
- Add tomatoes to garlic oil along with olives and capers and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.
- Drain pasta and add to sauce. Simmer, turning pasta with tongs, until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Plate. Sprinkle with oregano (or basil).