It has anchovies in it. Don’t be afraid.
Puttanesca is Italian for Slutty McSlutslut, I think, or something like that (seriously). The legend is, this pasta was what ladies of the night would make after, ahem, the night, because it was cheap and fast. I made this the other day in 20 minutes. Seriously, 20 minutes. It’s really delicious and tomato-y and briny and salty and olive-y. And not scary, the anchovies melt into the sauce and all you notice is an extra nutty tang. Plus, you should have some anchovy paste in your house for making Caesar salad. And, if you’re like me, there’s a lady in your apartment complex (Crazy Plant Lady) who planted a bunch of stuff and then knocked on your door at 7am all summer to remind you to water the garden, because in some misdirected attempt to be neighborly you said you would help with the garden, but she planted some good stuff like parsley and basil so you can go out there and grab a whole bunch for this recipe. If not- you can omit the fresh herbs if you want, but it’s always better to have them.
1 lb pasta, I used spaghetti this time
1 big onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
32 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 tsp anchovy paste, or 3 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup red wine, I always have red wine in my house, don’t judge me
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup capers
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
glug of olive oil, glug is a technical cooking term, you may not know it, it mean “pour some in the pan”
glug of balsamic vinegar
Handful of fresh basil and parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
Salt a big pot of water, and set it to get boiling on medium high heat. While the water gets hot, put the onion, garlic, anchovy and olive oil in a big pan and saute it on medium heat until the onions get translucent. Don’t be frightened by this stage, it will smell a little fishy, but that will cook off. When the onions look lightly translucent and a little brown, and the anchovy has cooked into nothingness, pour in the wine and balsamic vinegar, cooking until the liquid is absorbed. Then, dump in everything else but the fresh herbs. At this point, the pasta water is probably boiling, so salt it (salting pasta water is serious business: put in a healthy 5 finger pinch, or a tablespoon or so) and put the pasta in. While the pasta is cooking (probably 10-15 minutes) let the sauce bubble away happily, it should be thickening up quite a lot. When the pasta seems al dente, which is just a shade under fully cooked, drain it and toss it in the pan with the sauce. Sprinkle the whole lot with the fresh herbs and serve, with copious amounts of parmesan cheese.