One of my favorite winter pasta dishes is this recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca. All of the ingredients are available this time of year and many of them in my pantry or on the condiment shelf in my refrigerator. Those that aren’t can be easily found in the grocery store. Perhaps that was the inspiration when the Italians created the recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca. Although lore would have it that it was invented by ladies of the night to lure customers with its aroma.
Well, whatever the reason for its invention, I can depend on this recipe as an alternative to getting take-out food because it can be put together in the same amount of time.
Some puttanesca recipes call for tomatoes and anchovies. The tomatoes are used to make red sauce style pasta. But I prefer to use olive oil as the basis of the sauce because I think it makes the flavors from the other ingredients more pronounced. And since I try to minimize my use of fresh tomatoes in the winter, I recommend sun-dried tomatoes as they have such tremendous flavor. As for anchovies, I am not crazy about them so I leave them out. The raisins are not traditionally in puttanesca, but their little bit of sweetness balances the salty, savory flavor of the other ingredients so I think they are a good addition.
Add a green salad and a loaf of bread and you have a meal.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
- ⅓ cup chopped or sliced sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano or 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- Pinch red pepper flakes or more if you like it spicy
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 8 ounces spaghetti noodles
- Toasted pine nuts, optional
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat; add onions and garlic and cook until stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and raisins and cook and stir 2-3 minutes. Add parsley, oregano and red pepper flakes and stir. Season with black pepper; remove from heat and set aside (sauce can be made to this point, covered, and kept at room temperature until ready to toss with pasta, up to six hours).
- Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water (refer to package directions for length of time); drain then add to the puttanesca ingredients in the sauté pan tossing with tongs to evenly distribute ingredients.
- Top with toasted pine nuts and serve with grated parmesan cheese.