Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pasta Puttanesca

I am Miss Major Wimpo when it comes to traveling. I am tired afterwards. For, like, DAYS. Even if I'm just taking a 2-hour flight.  Such is the plight for someone as delicate as I am.

Anyway for Labor Day weekend I had more of an excuse for post-travel fatigue, since I had a fun and food-packed extended weekend in the Bay Area.  The actual travel portion involved profuse amounts of sweat, cursing and snarkiness as I trudged through multiple travel depots (subway, LIRR, AirTrain, airports, etc.) carrying what felt like a full-grown man inside of a suitcase and a very awkward, 15-pound pug in a bulky carrier hanging like a dead weight on my near-dislocated shoulder. Ah, the wonders of traveling with a pet and still refusing to check in luggage.

After our return home and several meals at Chipotle, I caved and started cooking again. But I started easy, with Pasta Puttanesca.

Recipe adapted from New York Times. 

  • Salt to taste (when I was a beginning cook, I really hated the phrase "to taste"--in this recipe, wait till everything's done to taste because there's plenty of salt in the ingredients. Unless you are Lot's wife, you probably won't need more than a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp, at the most)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 or more cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 3 or more anchovy fillets
  • 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, preferably oil-cured
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (in our household, this would translate to a measly 1/4 tsp or so because Mr. Whitey can't handle spicy food (I know, I'm being all racial and a bad person, I totally know that there are plenty of his kind who absolutely love spicy food--this is just me trying to shame him.  Also, do you like how I, in making my half-apology, took another dig by using the phrase "his kind", as if to further alienate them into being the "other"?))
  • 1 pound linguine or other long pasta (oddly, there was no linguine at Fairway. WTF. Hence the "thick spaghetti", which is well-known all over Italy)
  • Chopped fresh parsley, oregano, marjoram or basil leaves for garnish, optional (I took the "optional" part seriously)
Note: You could easily make this a vegetarian dish by leaving out the anchovies.

Heat the olive oil over moderate heat and add in the anchovies and smashed garlic. Cook until garlic is golden.  Anchovies are fascinating and add such a good savory note to dishes.  And don't worry, they don't stay whole like this throughout the cooking process.

After a few minutes of cooking, they kinda dissolve, like dees.

In a bowl, crush the tomatoes with your hands (you can also use a can of crushed tomatoes, although I actually I do like the texture of whole canned tomatoes lovingly crushed by my grubby hands a bit better than the pre-crushed tomatoes, which seem a bit watery to me, but will do just fine) and add to the garlic and anchovies.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

While the tomatoes are a'simmerin' away, prep the salty, briny stuff.  Pit the olives (you can see how I do this here) .  You can also chop them if you like.  Hm, guess the capers and red pepper flakes don't really need any prep.  But have a photo, if you please.

Put the olives, capers and pepper flakes into the tomato sauce.  You can use the sauce after  about 10-15 minutes of simmering (i.e. while you're cooking the pasta), or as long as you want.

Cook your pasta according to the package directions, shaving off a minute or two.  Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Toss with sauce and continue to stir over heat until pasta reaches your desired consistency.

Ta-da! This tasted awfully like the tuna pasta I made, sans tuna.  Yum.


  1. delicioso! what amazing meals you can pop out with only arm located.

    I'm of the camp that believes that anchovies are a Critical Part of the Procedure. for me, if there are no anchovies, I may as well just chug V-8.

  2. Anchovies are so good in pasta sauces. Ima fan.
    PS- glad your back! :D

  3. Yum, as always!! And, I loved your digs at Kevin and just white people in general. But, I do love spicy food. Maybe it's white males. Sean is a wimp when it comes to anything spicy.