Winner – Pasta Puttanesca!

16 Feb

The winner of this week’s poll, with 45% of the votes, is Pasta Puttanesca!  This type of pasta dish is native to Naples and is very simple to make.  The key ingredients to Puttanesca sauce are: olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, olives and capers. In the Lazio region of Italy, they also add anchovy paste for a little saltier sauce.

Interestingly, the term Puttanesca derives from the Italian word “Puttana” which is a vulgar term to describe a prostitute (I have refrained from using the direct English translation for modesty sake).  Why would the Italians name their pasta something so crude? There are two legends that explain the origin of the name:

Story A) After a long night of work, prostitutes would go to local restaurants and beg for food.  Since it was so late at night, most restaurant kitchens did not have enough ingredients to make one specific dish.  Therefore, the restaurant owners would make sauce using various leftover ingredients and called the sauce Puttanesca.

Story B) Prostitutes often had several clients per night and had little time to cook for themselves.  In between appointments, the women would need to make something quick and nutritious and thus Puttanesca sauce was born.

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Pasta Puttanesca
4 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
3 hot banana peppers, diced
1 tbsp anchovy paste
1 tbsp capers
1 (32 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (32 once) can green olives, pitted
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp oregano

1 lb cooked pasta or spaghetti
1/2 cup of pasta water
Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, garlic, peppers,and anchovy paste. Saute mixture until the anchovy paste melts into oil and garlic is tender, about 3 minutes. Add olives, capers, tomatoes, and parsley. Bring sauce to a bubble, reduce heat, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and the pasta water to the sauce. Cook for another 3 minutes. Serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

In retrospect, I should have coarsely chopped my olives rather than leaving them whole in the sauce. Please, learn from my mistakes!

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