I was cooking dinner at home last night, and I just wanted something quick, easy, and flavorful. Instantly, spaghetti con sugo alla puttanesca entered my mind. Literally translated as spaghetti with "whore's sauce," puttanesca was created in the region of Italy from Naples to Calabria. As the legend has it, it was designed as something that the "ladies of the night" could create and eat while between "clients." While I firmly believe that some of the best foods in the world were inspired by poverty, I would dare suppose that there is another class of fabulous food designed by people just trying to get laid. Here is my recipe for pasta puttanesca.
1 lb dried spaghetti or linguine (long pasta really works best for this)
2 T olive oil (twice around the pan)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 jar pitted kalamata olives, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 jar capers, drained
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped Italian parsley and torn basil
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
In a large pot and at least one gallon of heavily salted water, cook the pasta until just al dente--about 6 minutes. Drain and hold.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute garlic, anchovies, and crushed red pepper in olive oil until the anchovies dissolve or the garlic is a light golden brown. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, salt, and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook for roughly 15 minutes. Toss with the hot pasta and finish with herbs and cheese. There should be just enough sauce to coat the pasta, but not so much that the pasta is swimming in sauce. Serve with hot crusty bread.