spaghetti puttanesca

Whenever I ask my mate what dinner he would like to have most, it’s always a toss-up between this dish and another that I shall share at a later time. This is a delicious, fast, and easy pasta dish.

And so, when the mate’s mother is in town and I am to cook a welcome dinner – this is what is going on the plates.

Spaghetti Puttanesca is translated to “Whore’s Spaghetti”. It’s got a great history: According to Annarita Cuomo, writer for Il Golfo, a newspaper serving the Italian islands of Ischia and Procida, sugo alla puttanesca was invented in the 1950s by Sandro Petti, co-owner of Rancio Fellone, a famous Ischian restaurant and nightspot.

The moment of inspiration came when near closing one evening, Petti found a group of hungry friends sitting at one of his tables. Petti was low on ingredients and told them he didn’t have enough to make them a meal. They complained that it was late and they were hungry. “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi” or “make any kind of garbage,” they insisted. (In this usage, puttanata is a noun meaning something worthless or something easy to prepare even though it derives from the Italian word for whore, puttana.)

At the time, Petti had nothing more than four tomatoes, two olives and some capers; the basic ingredients for the sugo. And thus, it was born. Check out Wikipedia for more on this dish.

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
Adapted from Bitchin’ Kitchen on the Food Network

Serves 4. Or 2 hungry lemurs.

450 grams spaghetti (16 oz)
2 cups ripe cherry tomatoes, halved (I also use grape tomatoes here and about a full pint and a bit more works, halved).
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
6 anchovy fillets, chopped and mashed
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. hot chili flakes (or to taste)
2 tbsp. brown sugar (to be honest, I rough this every time)
pinch sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Boil spaghetti in salted water until it is slightly undercooked (1 minute away from being al dente), strain.

Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add chili flakes and garlic, sauté for 2 minutes until garlic is fragrant and golden.

Add mashed anchovies and sauté for 30 seconds. Then add cherry tomatoes and sauté for an additional 8-10 minutes until the tomatoes begin to create a light sauce.

Once tomatoes have sauced up, mix olives, capers, brown sugar, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper into the sauce.

Add the spaghetti to the pan, reduce heat to medium-low and use tongs to stir until the pasta absorbs the sauce, about 3 minutes.

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