Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pasta Puttanesca

I need a fork!
Yesterday at the office, I had a craving for pasta starting around 4 o'clock. I hate getting really hungry at that time of day, because the temptation after work is to stop off for something quick, aka junk/fast food. Which frankly, isn't at all appealing to me in the first place. I much prefer a home-cooked and good-for-me kind of dinner, so that's just what I planned. 

I bought a bag of Cherry Tomatoes over the weekend and my Sweet Basil and Greek Oregano in the big pots on the patio are growing by leaps and bounds. Check...tomatoes and herbs. And the rest I have on hand most of the time. If not I can make artful substitutions. This recipe takes only minutes from dead stop to plating and that's actually how the dish got its name in the first place. Allegedly given the name many years ago by, ahhh hmmm, ladies of the evening who by necessity created a pasta recipe that was fast and easy (no pun intended) using pantry items that were always available. And it goes without saying they wanted deliciousness. This recipe delivers on all points. Pasta Puttanesca.

I love this pot. A European design that's perfect for pasta or steaming veggies. But I digress. As you can see there's a small amount of Spaghetti in the boiling, salted water. Cook until almost done, al dente to be exact.

Kosher Salt
This plate contains the main ingredients for my quick Monday version of Pasta Puttanesca for one. Allow me to  explain. My recipe vs the typical one uses fresh tomatoes, not canned. When I can find tasty tomatoes, whether in the produce bin while shopping or plucked from one of my plants at home, that's my choice.  The type of olives I had on hand was not Kalamata, the 'proper' choice, but then I wasn't about to make a trip to the grocery store. I do use Kalamata's when I have them in the pantry. And truthfully I prefer them, but I love olives period, so my green ones worked for me. Everything else on the plate is in the classic recipe. Except for the lemon...I love lemon.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic Cloves
Anchovy Paste
Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Oregano
Fresh Basil
Red Pepper Flakes
Black Pepper
Parmesan Cheese

Add a small amount of olive oil to a pan and heat to medium. Sprinkle in the garlic cloves that have been minced very finely. Stir. Squeeze in a nub of anchovy paste and mix well. Drop in the tomatoes that have been cut in half, chopped capers and sliced olives. Stir together and cook until the tomatoes are beginning to soften. Scoop out a ladle of the pasta water and pour over the veggie mixture to de-glaze the pan and complete the sauce. This will be about 1 cup or so, and you may add more if needed to make an adequate sauce. Slice the fresh herbs in chiffonade fashion and add to the pan along with the red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. Taste first, because it's likely you will not need salt because of the anchovy paste and the salted pasta water. Using tongs, drop the 
cooked pasta into the pan and fold into the sauce coating it well. Serve with an ever so fine drift of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Monday just got better!

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