It is unknown what the true origins of Pasta Puttanesca are. Some believe it was named for a dish that the ladies of the night in Naples placed in their windows to lure customers. Puttana is the Italian equivalent of whore. Others believe that it was invented when a restaurant owner was asked by really hungry customers to please make them something. Since he was about to close and didn’t have anything to serve them, he ended up creating this dish.
In either case, my husband and I love it. The saltiness of the capers along with the nuttiness of the anchovy paste and sweetness of the tomatoes make it such a delight to eat. Simple to make and completely satisfying. Give it a whirl.
What is your favorite food/drink with a naughty name?
Pasta Puttanesca from Ellie Krieger
Note: I doubled this recipe when I made it. I substituted diced tomatoes for crushed tomatoes and used regular spaghetti. I also omitted the parsley and arugula.
8 ounces whole-wheat thin spaghetti, vermicelli or angel hair
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup pitted chopped Spanish or Greek olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably “no salt added”
3/4 cup chopped fresh arugula
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the parsley, olives, capers, anchovy paste, oregano and crushed red pepper to the skillet, and saute for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the arugula and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.
When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the skillet, tossing it with the sauce to combine. Top with grated cheese.