pasta puttanesca… pasta… puttanesca…


i love the way these words trip off the tongue. say it out loud and see what you think: “pasta puttanesca!”

it’s one of those phrases i mentally say aloud every time i read it, usually with a dodgy italian accent and a passion that throws the words out of my mouth!

and passion is entirely appropriate when you learn the meaning of the word puttanesca. it’s also the right word to describe the depth of feeling that the flavours of this dish can inspire.

if, like me, you enjoy food with punchy flavours - the briney tang of capers and olives, the salty gutsiness of anchovies, the heat of the chilli and the lip-smacking flavours of garlic then this is a dish you should try.

every time i make it, it’s a little different. sometimes, i do a simple version stripped to bare bones of anchovies, capers, olives and garlic. other times, it’s a more indulgent dish with plenty of fresh tomatoes to add to the depth of flavour. and that’s half the fun – give it a try and see what you come up with!

this dish is my contribution to presto pasta nights, as hosted by ruth at once upon a feast.

pasta puttanesca (serves 1)

pasta for one – i used linguine but i also like this dish with penne

1 tablespoon olive oil (or the oil that comes with your anchovies)

1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped

4-5 anchovies, drained and roughly chopped

3 ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped

75g black olives, pitted and halved

2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon basil, shredded

black pepper

parmesan cheese, to serve

cook your pasta until al dente.

meanwhile, heat the oil then add the garlic, chilli and anchovies. cook gently until the garlic and chilli soften and the anchovies “melt.” add the tomatoes, olives and capers and cook for 5-10 minutes until the tomatoes begin to breakdown and the flavours meld together.

add the basil and season with black pepper to taste (you are unlikely to need to add any extra salt). mix with the pasta and serve with plenty of grated parmesan.

garlic bread and red wine are the perfect accompaniments.