Pasta alla puttanesca is a super-flavorful, super cheap dish to make. All the ingredients are shelf stable so you can stock up on them and whip up this dish anytime the mood strikes you. You’ll see anchovies in the ingredient list: please, please, even if you think you HATE them, try this dish once with them. They don’t make the dish fishy, they add deep umami nuttiness to the dish. They are an essential background flavor. Don’t deprive yourself of that flavor note due to preconceived notions about anchovies!
The name of the dish mean pasta in the style of a prostitute. Legend has it that ladies of the evening would make this dish and leave it by the window. The smell would lure men to their door. It’s a Neapolitan dish and rose to popularity in the mid-twentieth century. I first read about it in the children’s book The Bad Beginning in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and then had to have it for myself. You might make it for yourself one night and read the book while you savor the pasta. Enjoy!
1 pound spaghetti
3-4 cloves garlic, niched
1 large sweet onion, diced
3/4 cup black and green olives, rough chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rough chopped
4 anchovy fillets, rough chop
1/2 cup white wine
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand and strained
pinch red repper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of heavily salted to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, add the oil to a large saucepan and sauce the garlic and onion for 3 to 4 minutes over medium high heat. Add the red pepper flakes, olives, capers, anchovies, wine and lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Add the pasta and cook for another 2 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning.