Spaghetti prepared in the style of a whore. It is romantic to think that whores served this recipe to special clientele. But, it was apparently invented in a restaurant to feed a group of late night revelers.
Puttanesca sauce is a pretty basic combination of sautéed garlic in olive oil with anchovies, tomatoes, capers, olives, basil and red pepper flakes. The result is both salty and spicy. Spaghetti Puttanesca is another standby dish that can be made using pantry ingredients.
I think may have mentioned that I first started cooking when as a young man when I found myself with sole custody of my son 35 years ago. He was only five years old at the time. I didn’t have a copy of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” or “The Classic Italian Cook Book” by Marcella Hazan. But one day browsing a bookstore, I picked up a paperback copy of Pierre Franey’s compendium of columns he wrote for the New York Times — “The 60 Minute Gourmet”.
I learned how to cook from Franey’s book. Each recipe is a simple two-page treatment describing a main dish and an accompanying side dish. There are multiple variations of pan-roasted chicken and I think I tried all of these. From Franey’s book I learned how to stock a pantry and the basics of making a simple pan sauce.
I also stumbled across Franey’s recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca upon which this recipe is based. I’ll come back to Franey’s book in subsequent blog posts. There are some recipes I remember well from his book that have not been on my table in a long time.
I never really planned to present a separate post about Spaghetti Puttanesca. The photo was intended to join a collection of shots depicting simple meals or leftovers. But I found the quality of the image above and the unpublished versions to be strikingly beautiful. This post then became a vehicle to introduce my photography set-up as it is today which may be found here.
The ingredients and directions for Spaghetti Puttanesca follow. As described this recipe the sauce makes four servings.
- 2 tablespoons everyday olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 3 or 4 canned anchovy filets
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 12 ounces tomatoes (Whole, crushed or strained. It really doesn’t matter much. I used Pomi Strained tomatoes here only because that was on hand.)
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 to 2 tablespoons capers
- ¼ cup diced green or black olives
- ½ teaspoon table sugar
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or ½ the amount of dried basil
- ½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley plus extra for garnish
- Dried spaghetti (approximately ¼ pound per planned serving)
- Add olive oil to a large saucepan, or skillet and bring up to a medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes until it begins to brown. Add anchovies and cook for 1 or 2 minutes until these melt down. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add canned tomatoes (crush these if whole canned tomatoes are used). Add red wine, capers, olives, sugar, red pepper, salt, black pepper, basil and chopped parsley. Heat until the mixture just begins to boil then reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, bring 6 cups of salted water to a rolling boil. Add ¼ pound of spaghetti for each planned serving and cook based on the package directions until spaghetti is al dente. Remove cooked spaghetti from the water and drain.
- To serve place spaghetti in a bowl, top with Puttanesca sauce and garnish with chopped parsley.